Repo Commentary-02/07/2020

IMG_6053IMG_6054IMG_6056IMG_6057IMG_6058IMG_6059IMG_6060IMG_6061IMG_6063IMG_6064IMG_6065IMG_6066IMG_6067IMG_6068IMG_6069IMG_6070IMG_6072IMG_6079IMG_6075IMG_6078IMG_6080IMG_6085IMG_6087IMG_6088IMG_6089IMG_6090IMG_6091IMG_6094IMG_6092IMG_6093IMG_6095IMG_6096IMG_6098

I am still NOT retired. Sounds like the SNL Francisco Franco joke. You will see news about that very soon. Separately, I have been asked to moderate a panel at the upcoming IMN Securities Finance conference in Fort Lauderdale in February, so I hope to see many of you there.

My Repo Commentary is posted free (it’s actually always been free) on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I’m trying to make it more frequent, but I’ve been swamped with the holidays and guests.

If you need to reach me, my mobile is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is currently jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures!

Holidays or Events (02/07):

¥ “e” Day (for mathematicians)
¥ National Periodic Table Day (for chemists)
¥ Ballet Day
¥ Give Kids a Smile Day
¥ National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
¥ International Clash Day
¥ National Wear Red Day (for American Heart Month)
¥ Rose Day
¥ Wave All You Fingers at Your Neighbors Day
¥ Send a Card to a Friend Day
¥ National Fettuccine Alfredo Day
¥ Bubble Gum Day
¥ Independence Day in Grenada

02/02/2020 was not only Ground Hog Day in the US (only 6 more weeks of Winter per Phil), Chris Kyle Day in Texas, and the Super Bowl (congratulations Kansas City Chiefs), but it was also a 900-year event in which the date was a Palindrome that could be read backwards and forwards the same way (as I’ve written it above).

Some Famous People Born on 02/07 in History:

¥ 574-Prince Shotoku of Japan
¥ 1102-Empress Matilda, Holy Roman Empress and claimant to the English throne
¥ 1804-John Deere, American blacksmith and businessman, founded Deere & Company
¥ 1812-Charles Dickens, English novelist and critic
¥ 1873-Thomas Andrews, Irish shipbuilder and businessman, designed the RMS Titanic
¥ 1885-Sinclair Lewis, American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate
¥ 1887-Eubie Blake, American pianist and composer
¥ 1908-Buster Crabbe, American swimmer and actor
¥ 1920-An Wang, Chinese-American engineer and businessman, founded Wang Laboratories (my father’s friend)
¥ 1932-Gay Talese, American journalist and memoirist
¥ 1934-Earl King, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer
¥ 1953-Dan Quisenberry, American baseball player
¥ 1957-Carney Lansford, American baseball player and coach
¥ 1960-James Spader, American actor and producer
¥ 1962-Garth Brooks, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
¥ 1962-Eddie Izzard, English comedian, actor, and producer
¥ 1965-Chris Rock, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter
¥ 1978-Ashton Kutcher, American model, actor, and producer
¥ 1989-Isaiah Thomas, American basketball player
¥ 1990-Steven Stamkos, Canadian hockey player

This Day in History (02/07):

• 457-Leo I the Thracian becomes emperor of the Byzantine Empire.
• 1497-In Florence, Italy, supporters of Girolamo Savnarola burn cosmetics, art, and books in a “Bonfire of the vanities.”
• 1783-American Revolutionary War: French and Spanish forces lift the Great Siege of Gibraltar.
• 1812-The strongest in a series of earthquakes strikes New Madrid, Missouri.
• 1894-The Cripple Creek miner’s strike, led by the Western Federation of Miners, begins in Cripple Creek, Colorado.
• 1900-A Chinese immigrant in San Francisco falls ill to bubonic plague in the first plague epidemic in the continental United States.
• 1904-A fire begins in Baltimore, MD, destroying over 1,500 buildings in 30 hours.
• 1940-The second full-length animated Walt Disney film, PINOCCHIO, premieres.
• 1951-Korean War: more than 700 suspected communist sympathizers are massacred by South Korean forces.
• 1962-The US bans all Cuban imports and exports.
• 1974-Grenada gains independence from the United Kingdom.
• 1990-In the Dissolution of the Soviet Union: the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party agrees to give up its monopoly on power.
• 1991-Haiti’s first democratically elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is sworn in.
• 1992-The Maastricht Treaty is signed, leading to the creation of the European Union.
• 1995-Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, is arrested in Islamabad, Pakistan.
• 1997-NeXT merges with Apple Computer, starting the path to Mac OS X.
• 1999-Crown Prince Abdullah becomes the King of Jordan, on the death of his father, King Hussein.
• 2009-Bushfires in Victoria leave 173 dead in the worst natural disaster in Australia’s history.
• 2013-the US state of Mississippi officially certifies the Thirteenth Amendment, becoming the last state to approve the abolition of slavery.
• 2014-Scientists announce that the Happisburgh footprints in Norfolk, England, date back to more than 800,000 years ago, making them the oldest known hominid footprints outside Africa.

Daily Weird Facts:

The Guinness Book of Records was originally published by Guinness Breweries as a reference for settling bar arguments.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.”—Kobe Bryant

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5
$47.66/barrel on 12/23
$48.63 on 01/07
$52.31/barrel on 01/16
$55.26/barrel on 2/3
$55.41/barrel on 2/26
$73.77/barrel on 4/29
$63.28/barrel on 5/17
$54.07/barrel on 6/18
$55.96/barrel on 7/24
$58.31/barrel on 9/10
$53.50/barrel on 10/2
$59.10/barrel on 12/8
$58.81/barrel on 1/17
$54.39/barrel on 2/7

The US just supplanted Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the No.1 oil producing nation in the world. Did you know that coal is still king in 18 US states? The price of gasoline at my West Palm Beach station just slipped in the past week by 10 cents, to $2.29/gallon. Most of the other stations in the area are 20-60 cents more per gallon.
“Coronavirus Is Bruising America’s Oil Patch—How Badly Is the Question: Some already struggling energy companies may not be able to weather the drop in oil and gas demand.” Wall Street Journal

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all Repo Commentary dates):

112.20 on 12/24
108.60 on 01/07
109.07 on 01/16
103.18 on 02/03
104.86 on 2/25
103.86 on 5/17
102.59 on 6/18
102.43 on 7/24
101.72 on 9/10
102.16 on 10/02
102.96 on 12/06
104.30 on 01/17/20
104.80 on 02/07/20

One Euro was trading on:

12/24 at $1.1426
01/07 at $1.1478
01/16 at $1.1396
02/03 at $1.2047
02/25 at $1.1955
05/17 at $1.1761
06/18 at $1.1825
07/24 at $1.1740
09/10 at $1.1623
10/02 at $1.1504
12/06 at $1.1688
01/17 at $1.1721
02/07 at $1.1543

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24 at $1.2655
01/07 at $1.2770
01/16 at $1.2880
02/03 at $1.3758
02/25 at $1.3728
05/17 at $1.3427
06/18 at $1.3157
07/24 at $1.3070
09/10 at $1.2959
10/02 at $1.2882
12/06 at $1.3819
01/17 at $1.3753
02/07 at $1.3574

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24
1.3297 on 01/07
1.3255 on 01/16
1.2492 on 2/03
1.2492 on 2/25
1.2800 on 5/17
1.2740 on 6/18
1.2480 on 7/24
1.2520 on 9/10
1.2560 on 10/02
1.2530 on 12/06
1.2390 on 01/17
1.2640 on 02/07

Gold closed on 9/09 at $1504.90/ounce. On 10/02, it closed at $1498.70/ounce. On 12/6, it closed at $1,464.40. On 1/17, it closed at $1557.30/ounce. Today, it closed at $1,576.20.

Bitcoin was trading at (Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25
$6,350 on 10/5
$3,774.97 on 12/24/18
$3,7774.97 on 01/07
$3,598.90 on 01/16
$3,421.10 on 02/06
$3,826.44 on 02/26
$8,100.00 on 05/16
$7,215.79 on 05/17
$9,088.59 on 06/18
$11,919.30 on 06/25
$9,790.37 on 07/24
$10,183.90 on 09/10
$8,235.46 on 10/02
$7,470.41 on 12/06
$8,876.87 on 01/17/20
$9,793.18 on 02/07/20

After rebounding in 2019 dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer, rallied during the Summer, and tumbled again in Q4, and has rallied in early in 2020.

Global Financial News:

The United Kingdom has officially left the European Union and has begun an 11-month Transition period. Now, the heat is on to determine how passporting will work, how trades need to be repapered, what the jurisdictional differences of agreements are, and how the surviving two geographical entities will work together in the future. Tidjane Thiam has resigned as CEO of Credit Suisse, amidst the bank’s spying scandal. Yahoo reported that banks are rethinking their brick-and-mortar networks and Citizens Bank is now focusing on 3 digital initiatives: Citizens Access, a web-based savings service; a digital student loan product; and partnering with retailers on point-of-sale financing. SEC’s Peirce has proposed allowing crypto firms to sell digital tokens for 3 years before crypto rules are in place. The CBOE announced that profits slid 3%. Sources say, according to Reuters, that Goldman is raising $8 billion for a buyout fund. CME Group President Durkin is stepping down in May. VanEck is launching the first sustainable muni bond ETF. Nick Leeson, the infamous ‘rogue trader’, who has spent time in a Singapore prison after leading Barings Bank to bankruptcy in the 1990s, is offering to share his tips on trading in a monthly subscription and one-on-one mentoring. France, Germany, Italy, and Poland want the EC to move swiftly to overhaul antitrust policies. Those countries would like the path to be easier for mergers of large companies, so they can compete fairly with US and Chinese rivals. Euronext is following the London Stock Exchange and consulting next month on a proposal to shorten the trading day. The PBOC says that the Chinese economy will recover from the hit from the coronavirus outbreak. The global economy was already struggling with the trade war and the virus is another blow. Germany’s industrial production fell 3.5% in December, the biggest decline since 2009. Nationwide strikes in France squashed its output in December, down 2.8%. This data is increasing market rumblings about whether the ECB will be easing further. Hedge fund Elliott Management has reportedly built a SoftBank stake, per WSJ.

US Market News:

The coronavirus, along with weak European data, continue to put a scare into global equity markets, including the US, and sent even the Dow down sharply. But, US markets have recovered with strong US economic news and the Impeachment acquittal. US initial unemployment claims just hit the lowest level in 9 months.

The Dow Jones (global stocks as well), along with other stock indices, were up this morning, after yesterday’s record highs, eclipsing the records set in July 2019.

The Dow Jones closed at (Repo Commentary Dates):

26,656.77 on 9/20/18
26,447.05 on 10/5/18
21,792.20 on 12/23/18
21,712.53 on 12/26/18
24,207.16 on 01/16/19
25,063.89 on 2/06/19
26,106.47 on 2/25/19
25,862.68 on 5/16/19
26,465.54 on 6/18/19
27,269.97 on 7/24/19
26,793.09 on 9/10/19
26,229.31 on 10/02/19
28,015.06 on 12/06/19
29,348.10 on 01/17/20
29,185.07 on 02/07/20 down 194.70 points today

S&P 500 has had a long upward climb with very little volatility. It has risen 27% during the past 12 months. It has risen or fallen less than 1% since mid-October, showing one of the longest periods of low volatility. It has closed on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58
12/26/18 at 2,467.70
01/07/19 at 2,549.69
01/16/19 at 2,616.10
02/06/19 at 2,706.53
02/25/19 at 2,799.34
05/16/19 at 2,876.32
06/18/19 at 2,917.75
07/24/19 at 3,019.56 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 2,969.04
10/02/19 at 2,906.94
12/06/19 at 3,145.91
01/17/20 at 3,329.62
02/07/20 at 3,335.27 down 10.51 from new all-time high

Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28/18 high of 8,030.04, closing on:

10/5/18 at 7,788.45
12/26/18 at 6,554.36
01/07/19 at 6,823.47
01/16/19 at 7,034.70
02/06/19 at 7,263.87
02/25/19 at 7,561.87
05/16/19 at 7,898.05
06/18/19 at 7,953.68
07/24/19 at 8,321.50 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 8,043.58
10/02/19 at 7,809.22
12/06/19 at 8,656.07
01/17/20 at 9,388.95
02/07/20 at 9,555.96 down 16.19 from new all-time high

US Treasury yields have been in free-fall since hitting highs in October 2018. The US Treasury announced that it will start selling a 20year bond during the first half of 2020, in an attempt to help with the budget deficit.

2 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.88%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.53%
01/16/19 at 2.55%
02/06/19 at 2.52%
02/22/19 at 2.48%
05/16/19 at 2.20%
06/18/19 at 1.86%
07/24/19 at 1.83%
09/09/19 at 1.58%
10/01/19 at 1.56%
12/06/19 at 1.61%
01/17/20 at 1.58%
02/06/20 at 1.44%

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%
12/18/18 at 2.64%
01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)
01/16/19 at 2.53%
02/06/19 at 2.50%
02/22/19 at 2.46%
05/16/19 at 2.15%
06/18/19 at 1.80%
07/24/19 at 1.79%
09/09/19 at 1.52%
10/01/19 at 1.51%
12/06/19 at 1.64%
01/17/20 at 1.58%
02/06/20 at 1.43%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.49%
01/16/19 at 2.54%
02/06/19 at 2.51%
02/22/19 at 2.47%
05/16/19 at 2.18%
06/18/19 at 1.83%
07/24/19 at 1.82%
09/09/19 at 1.49%
10/01/19 at 1.51%
12/06/19 at 1.67%
01/17/20 at 1.63%
02/07/20 at 1.45%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%
12/18/18 at 2.74%
01/07/19 at 2.60%
01/16/19 at 2.62%
02/06/19 at 2.59%
02/22/19 at 2.55%
05/16/19 at 2.28%
06/18/19 at 1.93%
07/24/19 at 1.93%
09/09/19 at 1.57%
10/01/19 at 1.59%
12/06/19 at 1.78%
01/17/20 at 1.74%
02/06/20 at 1.56%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%
12/18/18 at 2.82%
01/07/19 at 2.70%
01/16/19 at 2.73%
02/06/19 at 2.70%
02/22/19 at 2.65%
05/16/19 at 2.40%
06/18/19 at 2.06%
07/24/19 at 2.05%
09/09/19 at 1.83%
10/01/19 at 1.65% dramatic drop in one month!
12/06/19 at 1.84% dramatic rise in two months!
01/17/20 at 1.84%
02/06/20 at 1.65% and back down again!

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%
12/18/18 at 3.07%
01/07/19 at 2.99%
01/16/19 at 3.07%
02/06/19 at 3.03%
02/22/19 at 3.02%
05/16/19 at 2.84%
06/18/19 at 2.55%
07/24/19 at 2.58%
09/10/19 at 2.11%
10/01/19 at 2.11%
12/06/19 at 2.29%
01/17/20 at 2.29%
02/06/20 at 2.11%

US Treasury yields finally plummeted over the few weeks, despite the Fed’s continued intervention in the target rate not causing them to move much before that.

Housing News:

According to Freddie Mac, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in the US has reached a 3-year low of 3.45%. In other Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae news, acceptance of Adjustable-Rate mortgages linked to LIBOR will cease by year-end 2020 at both GSEs, and the companies will soon take mortgages based on the Secured Overnight Funding Rate (SOFR), per WSJ interview of my former colleague/partner, Tom Wipf.

Repo News:

In the Securities Financing industry, we are again facing a tsunami of acronyms in regulations and events, much like during the Financial Crisis. ESMA is delaying rules on failed trades by 3 months. LEI rules are being postponed for emerging market securities, as nearly 50% of them still don’t have LEIs. Even 10% of European securities don’t have LEIs.

ESMA’s SFTR Level 3
Brexit
EU Crypto Regs
FCA Crypto Regs
EC Cyber-attack Guidelines
FCA Financial Services Duty of Care Bill/MiFID II
CSDR
LIBOR replacement (SOFR, SOIA, EuSTAR)
EISF
ISLA/ICSF/ESG and short selling
MUR

The Federal Reserve has pumped billions of dollars into the Repo market to keep the short-end liquid, especially through the year-end volatility. They have not only been doing overnight repo operations, but also have an aggressive schedule for term repo operations. These have not only pushed GC repo rates lower, but also have narrowed the spread between GC repo and Fed Funds, below the recent norm of 13-15bp. Recently, the Fed began letting these market operations roll off, reducing the amount of reserves it was pumping into the Repo market. So far, GC repo rates have remained stable. Of course, half of the participants thing that’s because the hot money hasn’t left yet and there is still a problem and the other half of participants thing the structural problem has been solved.

Well, “repo” is the lubricant of the money market system, particularly the issuance of US Treasuries and other bonds, and it only comes up in conversation among non-participants when the gears start squeaking or fail to function, like yelling for WD 40. And, the last time the general public heard about “repo” it was during the Financial Crisis.

I know you’ve seen many articles on the subject of current repo market illiquidity and volatility, I’ve read them too. I think I can summarize them all and add my now 37 years of experience in the Securities Finance market to lay out the causes and possible solutions. (It looks like the Fed implemented some of my suggested solutions.)

To look at the WHY, one need look at what has happened since the Financial Crisis.

¥ The regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve, instituted emergency liquidity programs for different sectors of the money market (CP, Corporate Bonds, Broker/Dealers, GSEs, etc.). They eventually unwound those many programs.
¥ They opened up for a brief time the Discount Window to more participants and without the previous stigma attached, for collateral providers to access cash.
¥ They put FNMA and FHLMC into conservatorship.
¥ They began easing Monetary Policy massively for years.
¥ They began Quantitative Easing and built up the Fed’s balance sheet to $4.5 trillion. They added to it by buying more securities every month from the paydowns on their MBS portfolio.
¥ They propped up some broker/dealers, allowed some to fail, and helped others to consolidate/merge.
¥ The Repo Market shrunk in the US from about $7 trillion to $3 trillion, before recent increase to about $3.6 trillion.
¥ Regulators instituted mountains of new reforms, especially the 310 new rules of Dodd-Frank, globally to decrease the likelihood of systemic risk in the financial system and to force, particularly the broker/dealers and GSIB banks to hold more capital/reserves for liquidity.
¥ The market began looking for alternatives to financing through broker/dealers via CCPs, peer-to-peer financing, Sponsored Repo, and electronic trading platforms. (I’ll be discussing this more at the IMN Conference.)
¥ The Fed began its much hailed RRP program, which added over 300 cash providers from the Repo market to finance the Fed’s balance sheet and provide ‘liquidity’ for those cash providers.
¥ The Fed stopped QE and began reducing their balance sheet down to $2.5 trillion.
¥ The US Treasury began ramping up issuance to the tune of about $1 trillion more, which is funneled through the 24 primary broker/dealers and the central banks.
¥ The Fed began tightening monetary policy and tinkering with new measures of repo rates and LIBOR replacement. They also began tinkering with the Interest on Excess Reserves (IOER) from banks and credit unions, to try to create higher reserves.
¥ The Fed did an about face and began easing monetary policy. They also lowered IOER. They now raised IOER by 5bp in the last FOMC meeting.
That’s not everything that happened, but that gives you the broad strokes. And just in those bullet points, I see many of the contributing factors of the recent dislocation of the repo market. And, by the way, that actually refutes Mr. Memani’s later comment that “Nothing much has happened in the money markets since financial crisis. A lot more happened in those 11 years than happened in the 26 years that I was in the money markets.

I believe the reasons we had dislocations last quarter come down to a major imbalance of bank reserves, behavior not consistent with expectation, illiquidity in the repo market (rather than the highly touted increase in liquidity), concentration risk, a corporate tax date that removed cash from the repo market, humongous new supply of US treasuries being issued, many Repo market participants out of the Federal Reserve direct loop, and a mountain of hundreds of new regulations that broker/dealers (and others) are trying to still absorb and position reserves/capital, personnel, and trading strategies for. As you can see, there are a lot of balls in the air!

I’m not sure why participants and regulators didn’t foresee an imbalance (lack of) bank reserves. The piles of new regulations that regulators gave to the money markets fundamentally required banks to hold more reserves versus balance sheets (which repo is the major contributor to), the low yields may have encouraged banks to use reserves elsewhere in more profitable areas than repo (they are profit-motivated, as they should be), and the Fed lowered the IOER which may have disincented banks from depositing reserves at the Fed. The decrease in the Fed’s balance sheet came at the cost of the market absorbing those securities. The US Treasury issuing phenomenal amounts of securities that have to be taken by the 24 primary dealers (already full up on balance sheets they are trying to reduce) and the central banks/swfs (who already have $14 trillion of US Treasuries, should have been know as a potential clog in the system. Plus, with the Fed lowering rates, the returns on those US Treasuries would be lower for those new owners. And the central banks ownership of US Treasuries is another complicated story, one of ripple effects. They can’t really sell US Treasuries into this market, without having some issue with the US Government, whichever branch. But, yet, many of them need to support their currency, particularly against the US Dollar. So, some of them enter the Repo market to repo the US Treasuries to receive US Dollars to then buy their own currencies with, propping up their currency by kicking the can somewhat down the road, until their GDP rises or oil prices rise (raising their specific GDP). Layer over that macroeconomic soup a topping of trade wars and tariffs, it becomes rather complex to predict. And, that brings me to my last observation, that unintended consequences arose from the hundreds of regulations foisted on the money market, mainly because market behavior is not that predictive. Regulators thought that if they made the system safer, more investors would come in, but yet the repo market didn’t grow that much, but yet supply from the Fed and from the US Treasury increased dramatically. Regulators thought that if the banks had more reserves and capital, they would pass that on to the buyside, but that didn’t take into account their profit motivations and individual bank idiosyncricies. Lastly, the regulators didn’t expect the perfect storm of added supply, taxes withdrawn, cash out of the system, reserves lower, and tools that would work directly only on the 24 primary dealers and the 300 cash providers in RRP. I’ve been remarking for years, since the RRP, that there was not a comparable program for collateral providers/leveraged players in the Repo market. Steve Malekian went further to say, a year ago, that the newly touted liquidity of the Repo market was “only for Platinum accounts.” It was only for select buyside clients.

So, the Fed needs to do something. And, I don’t mean just the Overnight operations with the 24 primary dealers. I can’t even predict what those dealers’ positions are or how the added liquidity would flow to the buyside clients. The extra cash could be used to fund their Swaps desk, the Repo Desk, other outright traders, Platinum accounts, or speculatively with leveraged accounts (as a few savvy broker/dealers have seen that opportunity and gone short to reverse in at higher rates from leveraged accounts and supply balance sheet). The point is that the mound of regulations and the open market operations and the tinkering with the IOER are supposed to impact banks and broker/dealers in such a way to induce certain behavior, but behavior is unique. So, the Fed needs to go back to its ample toolkit (and get people who have been there at least 10 years) to:
¥ Implement more term RPs, to give the market some faith and reduce Fed reputational risk
¥ Purchase securities, either US Treasuries or Agency MBS, increasing the Fed balance sheet (although this may be difficult because there were probably several good reasons why they decreased it.)
¥ Open the Discount Window to more participants, with NO stigma attached (it used to be how one in the market knew who was having a liquidity crisis), and other sectors represented.
¥ Create a collateral provider facility, similar to RRP, or help reduce the hurdles, like CCLF for CCPs and Sponsored Repo type ventures to increase liquidity.
¥ Tinker the IOER rate UP, rather than down, to increase the Reserves at the Fed.
¥ Support/encourage Repo done outside of the 24 primary dealers, helping collateral providers find cash providers, when certain broker/dealers are balance sheet full and capital restrained from the very regulations that the Fed was involved in. I hope that didn’t come out too angry. I think systemic risk reduction is a huge priority and I am worried about firesale risk (although I don’t think moving the sale down the road to 7 days or 30 days changes firesale risk, it just changes the date of the firesale).
¥ Have the Fed be a permanent backstop to the Repo market.
The bottom line is that the money markets, particularly the securities finance market (Repo & Securities Lending) is still trying to find its footing, particularly as the Repo market has shrunk, while Treasury supply has increased.

I still see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for ALL collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers, which has been volatile but certainly widened since the Financial Crisis, and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis, which not only subjected clients to dealer defaults and wider spreads, but in many cases directly impacted clients by making them suddenly the outright traders of repo collateral. Some of that collateral, on top of it, was very illiquid. Not knowing who the other clients were on the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book, and who could potentially bring down those intermediary dealers was costly for many clients. Clearly, with that pipeline of is intermediation becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets (which has recovered partially with new entrants to the market and international banks’ increases due to regulatory arbitrage) being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be explored for cash provider and collateral provider clients. My former baby, AVM’s Direct Repo™, was the first of one of such pathways, over 10 years ago. Since then, many other liquidity pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agented repo through seclending agents and some prime brokers to buyside clients, direct lending from beneficial owners to hedge funds who are short via their agents, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations of their custodial clients, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like (BNY DBVX, State Street’s Cash Cross), FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products for certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, dealer to dealer and some clients electronic trading platforms (like GLMX, HQLAx, LMX, BNY DBVX, DealerWeb, and Tradeweb), other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (like Eurex, LCH Clearnet, OCC, FICC, CDCC, and SCH), total return swaps platforms (like WeMatch.com), and collateralized loan exchanges (like AFX/CBOE.) There have still been other firms that have created some kind of product that mimics a repo, but yet doesn’t show up on dealers’ balance sheets (so helps them), and/or provides better credit counterparties (so helps clients), and can take many forms. I believe this overall evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used in some part, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers. Some of that balance sheet has returned, as I mentioned above, but maybe for only select ‘platinum’ clients and may come at a higher bid/offer spread or in specific, more profitable products/securities, as other market observers/experts have said.

Brink published an interesting article on the State of the Financial Services Industry, saying that banks and investors say digital/electronic is important in their strategies, but its implementation is less visible. The report listed 5 reasons for lackluster performance: opposing priorities, lack of experts in C suites, no solid implementation plan, risks in a modular system, and stoppage of work after launch.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:
 

• Deutsche Borse/Clearstream/Securities Lending Times held their annual GFF Summit in Luxembourg, 1/28-1/30/20, which I attended two years ago.
• IMN 26th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance conference will be held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/12-2/13/20. I was the Chairperson in 2019 and will be a moderator this year. I hope to see many of you there!
• iMoneyNet/Informa has yet to announce its annual MMExpo, after the merger. I have spoken at this one several times.
• PASLA/RMA will hold its 17th annual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Tokyo, Japan on 3/3-3/5/20.
• GIOA will hold its 16th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/18-3/20/20. I have spoken (and sung) at this one. I may attend.
• Crane Data will hold its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Boston, MA on 3/23-3/24/20.
• IHS Markit will hold its annual Securities Finance Forum in London, England on 3/24/20.
• Finadium will hold its 4th annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/13-5/14/20. I’ve spoken and sponsored this one.
• GFOA will hold its gigantic 114th (wow!) annual conference in Los Angeles on 5/17-5/20/20. I have attended this one in the past.
• IMN/AFME will hold its annual Global Bank ABS (West) conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/16-6/18/20.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Nashville, TN on 6/8-6/10/20.
• ISLA will hold its 29th Annual Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Vienna, Austria on 6/23-6/25/20. I have spoken (and sung) at this one before.
• ICMA/Securities Lending Times will hold their annual AGM and conference also in Vienna, Austria, on 6/24-6/26/20.
• Crane Data will hold its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26/20 in Minneapolis, MN. I heard there were 580 attendees in Boston last year. I have spoken at this conference before.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in San Diego, CA on 9/13-9/16/20. I’ve spoken and sung at this one.
• IMN will hold its annual European Securities Finance conference in London, England on 9/15-9/16/20. I’ve attended this before.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/22-9/24/20.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 10/5-10/7/20. I’ve attended this before and might again.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders 2020 conference in Barcelona, Spain on 10/12-10/14/20.
• RMA will hold its 38th annual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Amelia Island, FL on October 12-15. I saw many of you last year in Boca Raton. It was my 37th RMA I’ve attended.
• Crane Data has yet to announce its annual European Money Fund Symposium.
• Finadium has yet to announce its 4th annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe.
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its large annual conference in Las Vegas, NV on 10/18-10/21/20.
• Finadium has yet to announce its Rates & Repo conference in New York. I’ve spoken and sponsored this one.
• Risk.net has yet to announce its 26th annual Risk USA conference. I’ve chaired this one.
• SIFMA has yet to announce its annual Meeting.

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 1.50-1.75% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while), after the FOMC lowered it on 7/31/19 and again on 9/18/19 and again on 12/4/19. The Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR), as reported by the Federal Reserve, was 1.88% on 10/1/19.

For you youngsters, particularly the ones freaking out about the Fed doing daily RP operations, the Federal Reserve used to not telegraph what it was doing in monetary policy. It would simply come in (and not on scheduled dates like FOMC meetings) and add or drain reserves by announcing a Customer RP, System RP, or Matched Sales. We would then all scramble, as the market absorbed the news, and try to figure out how much they did and where the Fed Funds rate would settle.

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. That rate on 2/6/20 was 1.58%.

The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is supposed to be a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities. It is also reported by the NY Fed on its website. It has been controversial and has been considered as a possible replacement for LIBOR. SOFR includes trades in the Broad General Collateral Rate of Repo plus bilateral Treasury Repo transactions cleared through the DVP services at CCP FICC, ostensibly filtering out issues trading Special. However, critics (and I am one) say that it only picks up the Offered Side of Repo (not a median), that it only picks up the small amount of DVP transactions cleared at FICC and Triparty Repo done at Bank of NY, ignoring the growing amount of bilateral (non-Triparty) repo being done peer-to-peer, dealer-to-dealer, and client-to-dealer, outside of FICC. It is a good representation of where Money Funds (except for a few savvy ones who trade peer-to-peer) are paid on their cash versus US Treasuries in Repo each day by broker/dealers. It almost completely ignores other sectors, particularly buyside clients with collateral. That all being said, the current SOFR reported by the Fed for 2/07/20 was 1.59%.

The next FOMC meetings (and they are all two-day meetings so these are the second day, when they actually announce) are: 3/18/20, 4/29/20, 6/10/20, 7/29/20, 9/16/20, 11/5/20, and 12/16/20.

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15/19, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market. So, if RRP is not extinct, it is certainly now dormant, occasionally coming out of hibernation for year-ends and quarter-ends, when liquidity becomes very strange.

In December 2018, at the FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%
12/13/18 to 2.50%

But, then the Federal Reserve paused. Suddenly, on 7/31/19, the Fed eased the Fed Funds target rate to 2.25%, and then did another rate cut by 0.25% to 2.00% on 9/17/19. Technically, that rate is the top end of a 25bp rate spread that the Fed considers its current target rate (1.75%-2.00%). The reversal in monetary policy is expected to continue, with perhaps one more rate cut by the Fed in 2019. The FOMC actually held an unscheduled meeting on 10/4/19, but did not change monetary policy at that meeting. But, on 12/11/19, the Fed, somewhat expectedly, lowered the Fed Funds target range to 1.50-1.75%, down another 25bp. They only raised the IOER by 5bp on 1/29, but didn’t change the Fed target rate.

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For reference, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007, at or near the beginning of the Financial Crisis.

The Fed’s vice chair Quarles suggests that policymakers could adopt several options that would allow financial firms flexibility on liquidity requirements, such as making it easier for banks to treat US Treasuries like bank reserves. That would probably have an impact on the liquidity issues seen in Q4 2019, when reserves were much lower than the Fed expected, retained by banks, and not in the system. The Fed had to supply massive amounts of reserves to the system to alleviate the situation. The Fed says it wants to now look at leveraged loans and collateralized loan obligations in bank stress testing, and see how these significant trading operations cope with a recession.

“Fed’s Randal Quarles Calls Current Stance on Interest Rates Appropriate: Federal Reserve Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles said Thursday he sees no imminent need to alter the Fed’s short-term interest rate target, in remarks that took stock of how regulators can improve liquidity in money markets.” Wall Street Journal

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Last month’s major 6.4 earthquake (and subsequent aftershocks) in Puerto Rico, which knocked out power again on the island again, was a very rare occurrence, something that happens in 75-450 years. Yet, we just had another 7.7 earthquake west of Puerto Rico and south of Cuba this week. This second Caribbean quake in as many weeks is being felt in Miami and up the East coast of Florida. We prepare for hurricanes and lightning, but are not used to earthquakes here. I’m looking at a global map of the teutonic plates and I see that much of the activity is down the entire west side of the Pacific plate and northwestern South American plate. This is just 2 days of earthquakes 4.5 and above magnitude:

2/07 5.5 Drake Passage
2/07 4.5 Caburan, Philippines
2/07 4.5 Ndoi Island, Fiji
2/07 4.6 Vanuatu region
2/07 5.0 Macquarie Island
2/07 4.6 Al Aunfidhad, Saudi Arabia
2/07 5.0 Enarotali, Indonesia
2/07 4.9 Agrihan, Northern Mariana Islands
2/07 4.7 Palaikastron, Greece
2/07 4.6 Caburan, Philippines
2/07 4.5 Nehe, China
2/06 4.6 Grande Anse, Guadelupe
2/06 4.8 Pisangkemeng, Indonesia
2/06 4.5 Tobelo, Indonesia
2/06 4.8 Sarangani, Philippines
2/06 6.0 Pondaquitan, Philippines
2/06 5.3 Takahagi, Japan
2/06 5.1 L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand
2/06 5.2 Neochorion, Greece
2/06 4.9 Abepura, Indonesia

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st and ends November 30th. For the 2019 storm season, CSU, which has been the most used, forecast a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. It turned out to be the 4th year in a row of above-average damaging seasons. We had 18 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. It became the 7th year that there were multiple Category-5 hurricanes in one season.

The Pacific Hurricane Season starts 5/1/20 and ends 11/1/20.

As for the weather, Florida is cool 60s and 70s and very windy. Antarctica set a record high temperature (64.9 degrees) and yesterday’s high was more like the average for San Diego or Houston.

Sports News:

MLB:

The 2019 MLB regular season began 3/28 last year and ended on 9/30 (more than 6 months). The World Series went 7 games, and the Washington Nationals, who were in the Postseason for the first time, beat the Houston Astros, who won the World Series in 2017, 4 games to 3 games. The cool thing, from my perspective, is that they share the same brand new Spring Training facility right here in West Palm Beach, FL, and I sing the National Anthem for both teams several times during Spring Training, and have just auditioned for both 2020 Spring Training for the Cardinals, Marlins, Astros, and Nationals.

Speaking of Spring Training, catchers and pitchers report February 11th, and Spring Training games start in March. But, the face of baseball has forever changed. MLB, which had been investigating allegations of cheating by the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros and 2018 World Series champion Boston Red Sox, came down with harsh punishments for the Astros: a fine of $5mm, loss of their next first round and second round draft picks, and suspension for one year of their manager and their GM. The Astros immediately fired both men, after the announcement. That will have a huge impact on the team that came in 2nd place in 2019. The common denominator between the 2017 Astros and 2018 Red Sox was then Astros’ bench coach and now Red Sox manager, Alex Cora. He was allegedly instrumental in the method of cheating using technology to steal signs from other teams, and brought that method and lack of respect for the game of baseball with him to the Red Sox in 2018. Red Sox management obviously feels so too, as they just fired him, even before he is disciplined by MLB. There are many analysts who think he should get a lifetime ban (including Hank Aaron), like Pete Rose received for probably a lesser offense. MLB is definitely showing that it means business and will not tolerate this type of cheating, with huge consequences if any team does. It is having more ripple effects too, as Carlos Beltran, a former Astros’ player in 2017, and new coach of the Mets, resigned even before his first season as coach. He was the only player who was named as allegedly participating in the cheating while with the Astros. I was about to tell you all the new MLB managers for this season, and then suddenly 2 get fired and one quits. Hard to replace a manager (and a GM) right before Spring Training. There is a rumor that the Red Sox may pick their former catcher and captain, Jason Varitek, to manage. Another crowd favorite would be Dustin Pedroia, but he still wants to play again. By the way, at the end of the season, the Red Sox also fired their President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, because of their poor 2019 season. Chaim Bloom replaced him and now has to hire a manager. The Astros have interviewed Buck Showalter for the manager job. The Twins have landed 3B Josh Donaldson from the Braves for 4years/$92 million. The Pirates’ new manager is Derek Shelton. The Giants’ new manager is Gabe Kapler. The Red Sox, one of the most prosperous franchises in sports, in an effort to simply reduce their luxury tax by $20 million (and not deal with Free Agency in a year), broke my heart and dealt arguably the 2nd best player in baseball, former MVP Mookie Betts, along with ace David Price, to the Dodgers in a 3-team deal. The Red Sox will receive OF Alex Verdugo, a couple of prospects, and a hot dog vendor. The Twins get starter Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers. The Red Sox, in turn, get a pitching prospect from the Twins. The Dodgers beat out their rival Padres in the Betts’ sweepstakes, but it is only a one year contract in their hopes to beat the Nationals in the NL this year. After that, Betts becomes a free agent and will likely become the next $300 million (or even $400 million) contract player. Hopefully, not with the Yankees, which would just add salt in my wound. I can’t help but see the move by new GM Chaim Bloom as the Red Sox wholesale dumping of players to rebuild. I see them possibly trading away DH J.D. Martinez, CF Jackie Bradley, Jr., and ace Nathan Evaldi in the near future. And they still don’t have a manager, right before Spring Training. The winter has seen Astros’ ace Gerrit Cole get a big deal from the Yankees, Dodgers’ slugger Anthony Rendon to the Angels (where the best player, Mike Trout plays) for 7years/$245 million, and World Series MVP ace Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals deciding to stay with the Nats for 7years/$245 million. The Mets failed to sell their team, which probably means the Wilpons will just frustrate their fans again. The Rays are still planning to play in two cities.

The Hall of Fame Committee decided the 2020 class of inductees. It was almost guaranteed that Derek Jeter would be unanimously inducted on his first year of eligibility. But some unknown BBWAA voter of 397 voted ‘no’ upsetting the unanimous vote. Jeter missed by one vote his teammate (Mariano Rivera’s) 2019 unanimous vote. The 2020 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot featured 32 candidates. Results from this vote were announced on 1/21/20. Only Jeter and Larry Walker received enough votes to become part of the 333 elected members of the Hall of Fame. 134 of those members have come through the BBWAA ballot method.

The Modern Baseball Era ballot featured 10 candidates for consideration:

Dwight Evans (one of my favorites)
Steve Garvey
Tommy John
Don Mattingly (another favorite of mine)
Marvin Miller
Thurman Munson (beloved)
Dale Murphy
Dave Parker
Ted Simmons
Lou Whitaker
Matt Kelly

“Modern Baseball” is one of four rotating eras considered by the Hall of Fame’s Veteran Committee, not the writers. It evaluates candidates whose primary contributions to baseball came between 1970-87. The list was compiled by 11 veteran baseball historians. A 16-member group of veterans decided in December. You needed 75% of the vote to get in. They gave enough votes for Marvin Miller and Ted Simmons, so they will be inducted in July 2020.

Golf:

Canadian Nick Taylor currently leads the 3 course AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. He is tied with Chris Baker, one stroke ahead of Jason Day. Ernie Els will not return as Presidents Cup captain for the International team in 2021. The USGA has declared that distance increases must stop, after a two-year study of how far the golf ball is flying. They want to put an end to the continuing cycle of ever-increasing hitting distances and golf course lengths. Maybe they should use those distance-reduced golf balls at many golf ranges, Top Golf, and Drive Shack. Jordan Spieth is about to fall out of the World Top 50! The Honda Classic is coming to Palm Beach Gardens, FL soon at PGA National.

The European Tour schedule for 2020 season:

¥ 11/28-12/1/19 Hong Kong Open
¥ 11/28-12/1/19 Alfred Dunhill Championship
¥ 12/5-12/8/19 Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open
¥ 12/19-12/22/19 Australian PGA Championship
¥ 1/9-1/12/20 South African Open
¥ 1/16-1/19 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
¥ 1/23-1/26 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
¥ 1/30-2/2 Saudi International
¥ 2/6-2/9 ISPS Handa Vic Open
¥ 2/20-2/23 WGC-Mexico Championship
¥ 2/27-3/1 Oman Open
¥ 3/5-3/8 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
¥ 3/12-3/15 Magical Kenya
¥ 3/19-3/22 Hero Indian Open
¥ 3/25-3/29 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
¥ 4/9-4/12 The Masters
¥ 4/16-4/19 Maybank Championship
¥ 4/23-4/26 Volvo China Open
¥ 4/30-5/3 Estrella D. Andalucia Masters
¥ 5/9-5/10 GolfSixes Cascals
¥ 5/14-5/17 US PGA Championship
¥ 5/21-5/24 Made in Denmark
¥ 5/28-5/31 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
¥ 6/4-6/7 Trophee Hassan II
¥ 6/11-6/14 Scandinavian Invitation
¥ 6/18-6/21 US Open
¥ 6/25-6/28 BMW International Open
¥ you have to believe that I had no idea this would be so long and that I just wanted to be helpful/informational…
¥ 7/2-7/5 Open de France
¥ 7/2-7/5 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational
¥ 7/9-7/12 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open
¥ 7/16-7/19 The 149th Open (British Open)
¥ 7/30-8/2 Betfred British Masters
¥ 7/30-8/2 Olympic Men’s Golf Competition
¥ 8/6-8/9 UK event
¥ 8/20-8/23 D+D Real Czech Masters
¥ 8/27-8/30 Omega European Masters
¥ 9/3-9/6 Porsche European Open
¥ at least I can keep this in the Commentary and just update it for the next year…
¥ 9/10-9/13 BMW PGA Championship
¥ 9/17-9/20 KLM Open
¥ 9/25-9/27 The 2020 Ryder Cup
¥ 10/1-10/4 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
¥ 10/8-10/11 Italian Open
¥ 10/15-10/18 Mutuactivos Open de Espana
¥ 10/22-10/25 Portugal Masters
¥ 10/29-11/1 WGC-HSC Champions
¥ 11/5-11/8 Turkish Airlines Open
¥ 11/12-11/15 Nedbank Golf Challenge
¥ 11/19-11/22 DP World Tour Championship

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season ended with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive battle 13-3 in the Super Bowl. The 100th NFL season ended Sunday night, in Miami, in an entertaining 31-20 comeback victory for the Kansas City Chiefs over the San Francisco 49ers. The win was coach Andy Reid’s 222nd victory as an NFL head coach (Eagles, Packers, Chiefs) and first Super Bowl victory! Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes became the youngest QB to ever win a Super Bowl. Chiefs’ Rashad Fenton won the Super Bowl in the very same stadium where he used to work in a concession. The Chiefs had not won a Super Bowl since Super Bowl IV, 52 years ago, snapping the longest drought of any NFL team. It was a rocky start for the Chiefs, with Mahomes throwing his first 2 interceptions in 160 passes and in the Playoffs, and the 49ers taking a 10-point lead into the final 9 minutes. But, Super Bowl MVP Mahomes led the Chiefs to 3 consecutive TD drives in that last 9 minutes and the Chiefs’ wound up picking off 49ers QB Jimmy Garrappolo twice. See my singing review in the Entertainment section. The Bengals have the No.1 pick in the Draft.

The XFL 2020 season begins shortly, 12 weeks beginning in February 8th, and running through April. There will be 43 games, including playoffs which will determine the champion of the restarted 8-team football league. The XLF East includes the D.C. Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis Battlehawks, and Tampa Bay Vipers. The XLF West includes the Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, and Seattle Dragons. Fox, ABC and ESPN will carry all the games. If you are missing football that much, you will recognize some former college and NFL players.

NCAA Football:

After about 100 bowl games (it seems) over many weeks, the College Football Playoffs came down to 4 teams: No.1 and unbeaten LSU made easy work of No.4 Oklahoma 63-28 on 12/28, and No.3 Clemson won a close battle over No.2 Ohio State 29-23, on the same day. That left LSU to play Clemson for College Football National Championship, which they did this week on Monday. Despite LSU playing in the New Orleans Superdome (so, a home field/crowd advantage), and having the Heisman Trophy-winning QB Joe Burrow, they were down in the 2nd quarter 17-7 to Clemson star QB Trevor Lawrence, but came roaring back by halftime, and won 42-25, winning their first National Title since 2007. Seven LSU players already are entering the NFL Draft. Clemson won the National Title last year and this was their 4th time in 5 years of being in the Finals. Virginia Tech’s Fuente is out of running to coach Baylor. LSU’s coach Ed Orgeron won Bryant Award as top college coach. To pour salt in my wounds, underachieving Michigan State’s legendary coach, Dantonio, has retired.

Here is the post-bowl, final AP Top 25 Poll:

1. LSU 13-0
2. Clemson 14-1
3. Ohio State 13-1
4. Georgia 12-2
5. Oregon 12-2
6. Florida 11-2
7. Oklahoma 12-2
8. Alabama 11-2
9. Penn State 11-2
10. Minnesota 11-2
11. Wisconsin 10-4
12. Notre Dame 11-2
13. Baylor 11-3
14. Auburn 9-4
15. Iowa 10-3
16. Utah 11-3
17. Memphis 12-2
18. Michigan 9-4
19. Appalachian State 13-1
20. Navy 11-2
21. Cincinnati 11-3
22. Air Force 11-2
23. Boise State 12-2
24. UCF 10-3
25. Texas 8-5

NCAA Hockey

Near the halfway point of the college hockey season, analysts are seeing Cornell University (my alma mater) and North Dakota as legitimate national title contenders to be in the Frozen Four. The beanpot tourney in TD Garden in Boston will feature a final of Northeastern and Boston University.

NCAA Basketball

The college basketball season is rushing towards March Madness. Pre-season No.1 ranked Michigan State just lost to Penn State, their 6th loss, tumbling them down in the rankings. There have been a lot of favorites and high-ranked teams upset this year. Here is the current AP Top 25 about two-thirds through this regular season:

1. Baylor 19-1
2. Gonzaga 23-1
3. Kansas 18-3
4. San Diego State 23-0
5. Louisville 19-3
6. Dayton 20-2
7. Duke 18-3
8. FSU 18-3
9. Maryland 17-4
10. Villanova 17-4
11. Auburn 19-2
12. Seton Hall 16-5
13. West Virginia 17-4
14. Oregon 18-5
15. Kentucky 16-5
16. Michigan State 16-6
17. Iowa 16-6
18. LSU 17-4
19. Butler 17-5
20. Illinois 16-6
21. Creighton 17-5
22. Penn State 16-5
23. Arizona 15-6
24. Colorado 17-5
25. Houston 17-5

NHL:

Last season ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Bruins 4-3 in the Finals. The puck dropped on this season on 10/2/19. The All-Star Games (it is a round-robin event now over 2 days) were held, and although the Eastern Conference-Atlantic Division lost in the finals, it’s Captain, Bruins’ Pastrnok took home the MVP trophy.

I know that the season is 82 games (we are more than halfway point), followed by a seemingly endless playoff that should end again in June, but here are the current standings. In the Eastern Conference: in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins are in first with a smoking 33-10-12 record (best in NHL), with the Lightning in second; in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals are in first with a 36-13-5 record (2nd best in the NHL), followed by the Penguins in second. In the Western Conference: in the Central Division, the Stanley Cup Champion Blues are in first place at 32-15-8 (the 3rd best in the NHL), followed by the Avalanche in second and the surprising Stars in close third; in the Pacific Division, the Canucks lead with a 30-20-5 record, and the Golden Knights are just ahead of the Oilers for second place. The worst team in the NHL right now are the Red Wings, boasting a dreadful 13-38-4 record. Ovechkin is just two goals away from scoring his 700th goal. Leafs’ goalie Andersen will miss at least 2 games with neck injury. Leafs’ Ceci will be out indefinitely with ankle injury. Wild’s Parise will play in his 1000th game against Stars. Trade rumors have begun. The Rangers are meeting with Kreider about his future with the team and the Leafs and Lightning could be interested. Glennie, a longtime Maple Leaf, died at age 73. Golden Knights’ goalie Fleury just passed Lundqvist for 5th on NHL wins list with 460. The Lightning have moved past the Penguins and Blues to No.3 in power rankings. The Blue Jackets jumped 4 spots, while the Panthers fell 5 spots. Blues’ Steen played in his 1000th game. The NHL and NHLPA will resume negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement.

NBA:

This year, the NBA season did not start until 10/22/19, 18 days later than last year. We are more than halfway through the season already. The Warriors traded D’Angelo Russell to the Timberwolves for Andrew Wiggins. The NBA Trade Deadline is today. Danny Ainge and the Celtics did nothing. The Grizzlies traded Iguodala to the Heat. The Rockets will face challenges without a center. Westbrook joined the 20,000-point club. The All-Star game is coming. The Cavs acquired Andre Drummond. LeBron and Giannis draft their rosters. A Kobe Bryant memorial has been set for 2/24 at the Staples Center, where he spent his career.

The current standings are: Eastern Conference has No.1 Bucks, No.2 Raptors, No.3 Celtics, No.4 Heat, No.5 Pacers, No.6 76ers, and the rest are well behind; Western Conference has No.1 Lakers, No.2 Clippers, No.3 Nuggets, No.4 Rockets, No.5 Jazz, No.6 Thunder, No.7 Mavs, and the rest are well behind.

Fighting:

Conor McGregor returned to UFC to beat Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone at UFC 246. UFC 247 weigh-in has already happened. WBA/IBF bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue was named Boxer of the Year by the Japan Boxing Commission. The big fight between heavyweights, undefeated Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce, is on for 4/11 at The O2 in London. The PayPerView rematch between WBC heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder and former champion Tyson Fury will be 2/22 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Tennis:

In Match in Africa 6, for charity, Roger Federer and Bill Gates beat Rafael Nadal and Trevor Noah, in Cape Town Stadium.

Horse Racing:

Hall of Fame rider Prado is only 10 wins away from catching Icon Cordero.

Racing:

In the NASCAR Cup Series of 2019, Kyle Busch won in the last race at Homestead. In 2018, the winner was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead. Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017. The 2020 regular season will begin in February with the Daytona 500. Here is the complete schedule of races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2020 and the results:

2/16 Daytona 500
2/23 Las Vegas, Jiffy Lube Pennzoil 400
3/1 Auto Club 400
3/8 Phoenix, FanShield 500
3/15 Atlanta, Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
3/22 Homestead, Dixie Vodka 400
3/29 Texas, O’Reilly Auto Parts 500
4/5 Bristol, Food City 500
4/19 Richmond, Toyota Owners 400
4/26 Talladega, GEICO 500
5/3 Dover, NASCAR Cup Race at Dover
5/9 Martinsville, NASCAR Cup Race at Martinsville
5/16 Charlotte, NASCAR All Star Open
5/24 Charlotte, Coca-Cola 600
5/31 Kansas, Kansas 400
6/7 Michigan, FireKeepers Casino 400
6/14 Sonoma, Toyota/Save Mart 350
6/21 Chicagoland, Chicagoland 400
6/28 Pocono, Worry-Free Weather Guarantee 350
7/5 Indianapolis, Big Machine Vodka 400
7/11 Kentucky, Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart
7/19 New Hampshire, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301
8/9 Michigan, Consumers Energy 400
8/16 Watkins Glen, Go Bowling at The Glen
8/23 Dover, Drydene 400
8/29 Daytona, Coke Zero Sugar 400
playoffs:
9/6 Darlington, Southern 500
9/12 Richmond, Federated Auto Parts 400
9/19 Bristol, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
9/27 Las Vegas, South Point 400
10/4 Talladega, Alabama 500
10/11 Charlotte, Bank of America ROVAL 400
10/18 Kansas, Hollywood Casino 400
10/25 Texas, Texas 500
11/1 Martinsville, NASCAR Cup Fall Race
11/8 Phoenix, NASCAR Cup Series Championship

Formula One begins with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That will be followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule. Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar and results (it might be easier to just say which races were not won by Lewis Hamilton). I will be posting the 2020 Formula One calendar in the next Repo Commentary:

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne-won by V. Bottas
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by Lewis Hamilton
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg-won by Max Verstappen
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone-won by Lewis Hamilton
7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim-won by Max Verstappen
8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest-Lewis Hamilton
9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa-Charles Leclerc
9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza-Charles Leclerc
9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore-Sebastian Vettel
9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi-Lewis Hamilton
10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka-V. Bottas
10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City-Lewis Hamilton
11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX-V. Bottas
11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo-M. Verstappen
12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

Here is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar and results (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars). The season just ended, with Josef Newgarden coming in 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for the championship. I will be posting the 2020 calendar in the next Repo Commentary:

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg-Josef Newgarden
3/24 Circuit of the Americas-Colton Herta
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama-Takuma Sato
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach-Alexander Rossi
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis-Simon Pagenaud
5/26 Indianapolis 500-Simon Pagenaud
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1-Josef Newgarden
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2-Scott Dixon
6/8 Texas Grand Prix-Josef Newgarden
6/23 Road America-Alexander Rossi
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto-Simon Pagenaud
7/20 Iowa 300-Josef Newgarden
7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio-Scott Dixon
8/18 Pocono Grand Prix-Will Power (I love that name!)
8/24 Gateway Grand Prix-Takuma Sato
9/1 Grand Prix of Portland-Will Power (that’s all it takes)
9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca-Colton Herta

Travel News:

Boeing’s woes continue. US officials and US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin expect US GDP growth to dip below 3% because of the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max jets. A fire broke out today at California’s Disneyland near Main Street. A Singapore couple were forced to attend their own wedding via Livestream due to coronavirus fears. Virgin Voyages is swapping key cards for bands made from recycled ocean plastic. New Yorkers can no longer apply for Global Entry. At least 3 people are dead, after a Pegasus Airlines plane skidded off a runway and broke into pieces with 177 people on board. 8 Americans on Princess cruise ship tested positive for coronavirus. Guam has barred Holland-America cruise ship, Westerdam, sailing from Singapore. It was also turned away from the Philippines, Taiwan, and Taipei. On Thursday, 5 ports in Japan announced that it would not allow the 30-day cruise ship to dock. Currently, the ship is sailing through the East China Sea. Holland America said it was in discussions with the US State Department, the US Navy, and the Dutch government to try and find a solution. Passengers spent $10,000-20,000 for the month-long cruise. In Hong Kong, 3,600 people aboard the World Dream cruise liner have been under quarantine for 3 days, after a number of passengers from a FORMER voyage tested positive for the coronavirus. There is now a Japanese cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, being used as a coronavirus quarantine and passengers are scared and angry. Some of the passengers are American and described ambulances lined up on land ready to receive the increasing toll of passengers diagnosed with the deadly virus. There are more than 3,700 people on board, including 2,600 passengers, of whom 428 are American. So far, 61 passengers have tested positive. One passenger, author Gay Courter, contacted Medjet, her insurance company, which is willing to send a crisis extraction team to evacuate her. However, the US and Japanese governments won’t allow that to happen. Travelers from mainland China will be isolated for 14 days in new efforts by Hong Kong to stem the coronavirus.

Health News:

The WHO declared the outbreak of respiratory disease from a novel coronavirus to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. That is the 6th time the WHO has used that measure since the H1N1 bird flu pandemic of 2009. The outbreak began in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province. People developed pneumonia without a clear cause and for which existing treatments were not effective. The virus has also shown evidence of human-to-human transmission and, it is believed, that transmission can occur from those humans not even showing symptoms of the disease. The disease can be fatal and has an incubation period of 2 to 14 days. Thousands of cases have now been reported in several countries across Europe, North America, and Asia-Pacific. As of 2/6/20, there were 31,526 cases confirmed, including in every province of China. 613 deaths have so far been confirmed. In response, Chinese cities with a combined population of over 57 million people, which includes Wuhan and 15 other surrounding cities, were placed on full or partial lockdown, and public transportation and outward transport was suspended. Hong Kong also raised its infectious disease response level to the highest level and declared an emergency, closing its schools until March and cancelling its New Year celebrations. The Chinese doctor who sounded the alarm on the Coronavirus has died of the virus. President Trump signed a $1.8 billion autism funding bill. New research that CRISPR-Edited immune cells survive for months and still kill cancer, making scientists optimistic that this gene-editing technology could eventually be used to help the human immune system to cure cancer. “Memory Cafes” in actual cafes, parks, libraries, and community buildings, are helping people with Dementia, as well as their caregivers. Experts say that Flavonoids, found in many foods, such as apples, have anti-inflammatory effects that can help with heart health, cancer risk, and brain health. A new study shows that shower curtains typically have the most germs in your bathroom, not the toilet. The FDA has approved the first drug for children’s peanut allergies. So, not only did I get the flu vaccine this year, but I got all of the other vaccines. A new study shows that there has been an increase in the number of high school and middle school students who vape and many more teens are vaping E-cigarettes than smoking regular cigarettes. 40% of Americans say they’re sleep-deprived after the Super Bowl. I bet there is a significant percentage who lied about not being sleep-deprived.

Animal News:

A tour guide off of Knysna, near Capetown, South Africa, filmed two orcas (killer whales) hunting and killing a large great white shark. Scientists believe that this is becoming more common and has led to a decrease in the number of sightings of great white sharks off Capetown. Killer whales eat the liver of the great white sharks. So, who’s top of the food chain now? Australia’s newest National Park has sea lions, 90 species of seabirds, and some of the clearest water on Earth. According to new research, penguins speak like people. A Chiefs player paid fees for all dog adoptions at Kansas City shelter to celebrate his Super Bowl win. Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of Winter on Groundhog Day. You may have seen that ad during the Super Bowl about the yellow Labrador that survived cancer to promote animal health. That ad cost $6 million and was purchased by the dog’s owner to thank the veterinarian. ‘Joe Exotic’ was sentenced to 22 years in plot to kill animal rights activist. The Transportation Department said it will start cracking down on pets as service animals. A mountain lion attacked a 3-year-old in a California park. A father choked a coyote to death after attacks in New Hampshire. Botswana is holding elephant hunting auctions. A ‘bat tornado’ invaded an Australian town.

Entertainment News:

Basketball legend and major philanthropist, Kobe Bryant, 41, died in a crash of his helicopter near Calabasas, CA, along with his 13-year-old daughter and 6 other passengers and pilot. Weather conditions were poor and foggy at the time of the crash. The devastating loss of one of the best basketball players of all time and a major figure in charity work was felt by many fans, many teammates, and many other celebrities. Lizza did a good job of singing “America The Beautiful”. Demi Lovato sang the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. She sang beautifully. Unfortunately, despite her being an excellent a cappella singer, someone decided that Lovato should have a marching band accompany her on the National Anthem. That part sounded awful and was probably very distracting for her. It was clear that the band, particularly the horns were not on the same key as her and it just sounded like bad noise behind her. I felt badly for her. Next up was the Halftime Show. I have two answers for the Halftime Show, as you no doubt have heard two strong opinions about it. There are many people, particularly parents of teenagers, who are very unhappy with the way Shakira and JLo performed scantily clad in risqué dance moves to their American and Latin hits, which included some kind of twerking by Shakira and a pole dance (perhaps a nod to her latest movie, HUSTLERS) and crotch-grabbing (sort of like Michael Jackson) by Jennifer Lopez. I understand that it was probably over-the-top and crossed a line for family-friendly football watching. As for the performances, Shakira, 43, did such a good job singing and dancing very intricate steps with a huge troupe, that I thought she was lip-synching. But, she wasn’t! JLo, who started as a dancer herself, was up to the challenge, despite being 50-years-old, and did a great job on her own songs and then together with Shakira. I thought it was odd that the committee chose these 2 artists to do the Halftime, but watching it, I saw that it was perfect for the mixed Latin and American cultures that are represented by the city of Miami. However, I do understand that it was probably not family-appropriate viewing for all ages, particularly in primetime.
Rush Limbaugh has announced that he is battling an aggressive form of lung cancer. One of the last icons of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Kirk Douglas, died Wednesday at the age of 103. Douglas’ life was “like a movie”. He came from abject poverty to become a film legend and renowned philanthropist. He is as well known for his epic roles in 90 films and TV shows, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, in the films ACE IN THE HOLE, THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, PATHS OF GLORY, THE VIKINGS, LONELY ARE THE BRAVE, and SPARTACUS, as he is for his famous actor son, Michael Douglas, and his daughter-in-law, Catherine Zeta-Jones. With the film SPARTACUS, which Douglas starred in, produced, and raised the whopping (at the time) $12 million for, Douglas gave a break to young director Stanley Kubrick and scriptwriter Dalton Trumbo, who at the time was on the Hollywood Communist blacklist. The films overwhelming success directly led to the end of the blacklist, something for which Douglas remained proud the rest of his life. Actor Gary Sinise, “Lieutenant Dan” of FORREST GUMP, was given the Patriot Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, for his passionate support of US military veterans. Warner Music’s new IPO filing has signaled a music industry revival. Manifest is losing me as a viewer, with its poor acting and shark-jumping plot twists. Brian Wilson is calling on fans to boycott the Beach Boys over a hunting event with Donald Trump Jr. Friends cast is in ‘final negotiations’ to appear in a one hour reunion special, in which they are interviewed by Ellen DeGeneres, that could earn them $2.25 million each! Jessica Simpson is promoting her new memoir book, “Open Book.” Ireland Baldwin has mended her relationship with father, Alec. Jennifer Aniston is teasing Matt Perry for finally joining Instagram. The Oscars are this Sunday.

This past weekend’s box-office was pretty weak, up against the Super Bowl. BAD BOYS FOR LIFE took No.1 spot with $17.7 million, in its 3rd week, for a total gross of $148 million. No.2 was 1917 (still want to see this), which made $9.5 million in its 6th week, for a total gross of $119.1 million. No.3 was DOLITTLE (I would also like to see), which made $7.6 million, for a total of $55.1 million in its 3rd week. No.4 was the debut of GRETEL & HANSEL, which made $6.1 million. No.5 was JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL, which made $6 million, in its 8th week, for a whopping total of $291.2 million!

Opening this Friday (today): BIRDS OF PREY, UNCUT GEMS, MALANG, JAANU, THE LODGE, THE MAN STANDING NEXT, ZAKHMI FAMILY MAN, AND THEN WE DANCED, 2/1, WAITING FOR ANYA, COME TO DADDY, DREAM ROUND, CANE RIVER, THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN, GOD OF GODS, and JIANG ZIYA.

Technology & Space News:

NASA astronaut Christina Koch returned to Earth after record-breaking mission. She spent nearly 11 months in space, the longest ever spaceflight by a woman. Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) announced it is no longer seeking a deal with eBay. eBay had never responded to their entreaties. iPhone manufacturer, Foxconn, has started making surgical masks to help with the coronavirus response.

US News:

President Trump gave his State of the Union address on Tuesday night and, for the first time since the 1700s, protocol was broken. The President, as is custom, handed a signed copy on special bond, enclosed in a leather folio, to the Speaker of the House, as the ‘We the People’s representative, to give to The People. Nancy Pelosi, instead, tore the speech in half, in front of the President. In effect, she destroyed public property. It was not the only bad news for the Democrats on Tuesday night, as their first primary, the Iowa Caucus, became a shambles, as the voting machines didn’t work properly and they were unable to tabulate the votes and declare a winner. On Thursday, officials ordered a recanvassing of the voters. Also on Thursday, President Trump was acquitted on both charges in the Impeachment process, as the Senate voted against it, along party lines (with the exception of Republican Mitt Romney). In less political news, during the State of the Union address ceremony, President Trump, honored the 100-year-old Tuskegee Airman, Charles, McGee, who had just presented the commemorative coin used for the coin toss at the Super Bowl on Sunday (honored along with 3 other WWII veterans who were 100-years-old at the Super Bowl), by promoting the Colonel to Brigadier General. The famed African American pilot, some of the first in history to fly in the US Air Force, flew more than 130 combat missions against the Nazis in WWII. When the armed forces were officially integrated, McGee served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Ironically, McGee, was born on 12/7, 24 years to the exact day of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Also honored at the State of the Union ceremony, was Rush Limbaugh, with a Medal of Freedom. Just as happened in 2015, a bizarre essay on Rape written by Bernie Sanders in 1972, has resurfaced and has captured the attention of the media and has been verified by Snopes.com. Tycoon Douglas Hodge was found guilty of bribing top US colleges with nearly $850,000, to get 4 of his 7 children into those schools, in the latest in the admissions scandal. The former investment firm CEO was sentenced to 9 months in prison. An El Paso, TX gunman has been hit with 90 Federal hate charges.

International News:

President Trump announced that US forces have killed another terror group leader, this time Qassim al-Raymi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in a counter-terrorism operation in Yemen. Russian FM is visiting Venezuela, bolstering Maduro. The reporter who exposed Chechen gay purge was attacked. Fire-struck Australia is now facing ‘dangerous’ downpours and flooding. Another airliner was “nearly hit” by Syria anti-aircraft fire. Russian media have hinted at US coronavirus conspiracy. Spanish police have shut down the cardboard gag, which is accused of shipping waste worth EU 10 million from Madrid to Asian countries. Global firms are pressuring China to re-open factories, closed because of the coronavirus.

Florida:

I may have to revive my Floriduh section…The Florida Highway Patrol arrested two men, after a routine traffic stop in Florida’s panhandle for speeding. The officers added additional charges when they found a variety of illegal drugs (Meth, GHB, cocaine, MDMA, and fentanyl) in a bag clearly labeled on the outside as “Bag Full of Drugs” on the backseat.

The snowbirds are firmly entrenched here in Florida again, and they are making travel and restaurant reservations tough. But, is a boon for Florida, which relies on tourism. As long as they don’t come sick, we are ecstatic to welcome them!

I am usually singing a National Anthem, singing in my 6-part harmony group Generation Gap, and/or doing an Elvis Presley gig, each week here in Palm Beach County, FL. I had many gigs in November and December. That has quieted down some, although now we may be getting into more private parties and weddings, and away from restaurants. If you were inclined to see much more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there were many acts which came to Florida this in 2019, and these are expected to come in 2020 (below). A public service announcement about the outdoor amphitheater in West Palm Beach (currently adjacent to the South Florida Fair), it has been very confusing with all the name changes, and it has happened again. It was originally called the Coral Sky Amphitheater, then was changed to the Cruzan Rum Amphitheater, then to Perfekt Vodka Amphitheater, then back to Coral Sky Amphitheater, and was changed again this week to iThink Financial Services Amphitheater. None of the names have been particularly catchy and all those changes occurred only in the last 11 years!

SOUTH FLORIDA 2020 SCHEDULE (next 2 months):

Celine Dion-Miami, January 17
Queensryche-Fort Lauderdale, January 17
Brian Wilson-Miami, January 17
Mary Wilson-Bonita Springs, January 19
Starship-West Palm Beach, January 22
Steve Martin & Martin Short-Hollywood, January 25
Guns N Roses-Miami, January 31
Jason Aldean,Riley Green,Morgan Wallen-Orlando, January 31
Maroon 5-Miami, February 1
Zac Brown Band-Sunrise, February 1
Styx-Port St. Lucie, February 1
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 11
Kool and the Gang & Village People-Key West, February 21
John Fogarty-Fort Lauderdale, February 22
Foreigner, Kansas, and Europe-West Palm Beach, September 6
 

Repo Commentary-02/07/2020

IMG_6054IMG_6053IMG_6056IMG_6057IMG_6058IMG_6059IMG_6060IMG_6061IMG_6062IMG_6063IMG_6064IMG_6065IMG_6066IMG_6067IMG_6068IMG_6069IMG_6070IMG_6072IMG_6079IMG_6075IMG_6078IMG_6080IMG_6085IMG_6087IMG_6088IMG_6089IMG_6090IMG_6091IMG_6094IMG_6092IMG_6093IMG_6095IMG_6096IMG_6098

I am still NOT retired. Sounds like the SNL Francisco Franco joke. You will see news about that very soon. Separately, I have been asked to moderate a panel at the upcoming IMN Securities Finance conference in Fort Lauderdale in February, so I hope to see many of you there.

My Repo Commentary is posted free (it’s actually always been free) on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I’m trying to make it more frequent, but I’ve been swamped with the holidays and guests.

If you need to reach me, my mobile is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is currently jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures!

Holidays or Events (02/07):

¥ “e” Day (for mathematicians)
¥ National Periodic Table Day (for chemists)
¥ Ballet Day
¥ Give Kids a Smile Day
¥ National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
¥ International Clash Day
¥ National Wear Red Day (for American Heart Month)
¥ Rose Day
¥ Wave All You Fingers at Your Neighbors Day
¥ Send a Card to a Friend Day
¥ National Fettuccine Alfredo Day
¥ Bubble Gum Day
¥ Independence Day in Grenada

02/02/2020 was not only Ground Hog Day in the US (only 6 more weeks of Winter per Phil), Chris Kyle Day in Texas, and the Super Bowl (congratulations Kansas City Chiefs), but it was also a 900-year event in which the date was a Palindrome that could be read backwards and forwards the same way (as I’ve written it above).

Some Famous People Born on 02/07 in History:

¥ 574-Prince Shotoku of Japan
¥ 1102-Empress Matilda, Holy Roman Empress and claimant to the English throne
¥ 1804-John Deere, American blacksmith and businessman, founded Deere & Company
¥ 1812-Charles Dickens, English novelist and critic
¥ 1873-Thomas Andrews, Irish shipbuilder and businessman, designed the RMS Titanic
¥ 1885-Sinclair Lewis, American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate
¥ 1887-Eubie Blake, American pianist and composer
¥ 1908-Buster Crabbe, American swimmer and actor
¥ 1920-An Wang, Chinese-American engineer and businessman, founded Wang Laboratories (my father’s friend)
¥ 1932-Gay Talese, American journalist and memoirist
¥ 1934-Earl King, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer
¥ 1953-Dan Quisenberry, American baseball player
¥ 1957-Carney Lansford, American baseball player and coach
¥ 1960-James Spader, American actor and producer
¥ 1962-Garth Brooks, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
¥ 1962-Eddie Izzard, English comedian, actor, and producer
¥ 1965-Chris Rock, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter
¥ 1978-Ashton Kutcher, American model, actor, and producer
¥ 1989-Isaiah Thomas, American basketball player
¥ 1990-Steven Stamkos, Canadian hockey player

This Day in History (02/07):

• 457-Leo I the Thracian becomes emperor of the Byzantine Empire.
• 1497-In Florence, Italy, supporters of Girolamo Savnarola burn cosmetics, art, and books in a “Bonfire of the vanities.”
• 1783-American Revolutionary War: French and Spanish forces lift the Great Siege of Gibraltar.
• 1812-The strongest in a series of earthquakes strikes New Madrid, Missouri.
• 1894-The Cripple Creek miner’s strike, led by the Western Federation of Miners, begins in Cripple Creek, Colorado.
• 1900-A Chinese immigrant in San Francisco falls ill to bubonic plague in the first plague epidemic in the continental United States.
• 1904-A fire begins in Baltimore, MD, destroying over 1,500 buildings in 30 hours.
• 1940-The second full-length animated Walt Disney film, PINOCCHIO, premieres.
• 1951-Korean War: more than 700 suspected communist sympathizers are massacred by South Korean forces.
• 1962-The US bans all Cuban imports and exports.
• 1974-Grenada gains independence from the United Kingdom.
• 1990-In the Dissolution of the Soviet Union: the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party agrees to give up its monopoly on power.
• 1991-Haiti’s first democratically elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is sworn in.
• 1992-The Maastricht Treaty is signed, leading to the creation of the European Union.
• 1995-Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, is arrested in Islamabad, Pakistan.
• 1997-NeXT merges with Apple Computer, starting the path to Mac OS X.
• 1999-Crown Prince Abdullah becomes the King of Jordan, on the death of his father, King Hussein.
• 2009-Bushfires in Victoria leave 173 dead in the worst natural disaster in Australia’s history.
• 2013-the US state of Mississippi officially certifies the Thirteenth Amendment, becoming the last state to approve the abolition of slavery.
• 2014-Scientists announce that the Happisburgh footprints in Norfolk, England, date back to more than 800,000 years ago, making them the oldest known hominid footprints outside Africa.

Daily Weird Facts:

The Guinness Book of Records was originally published by Guinness Breweries as a reference for settling bar arguments.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.”—Kobe Bryant

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5
$47.66/barrel on 12/23
$48.63 on 01/07
$52.31/barrel on 01/16
$55.26/barrel on 2/3
$55.41/barrel on 2/26
$73.77/barrel on 4/29
$63.28/barrel on 5/17
$54.07/barrel on 6/18
$55.96/barrel on 7/24
$58.31/barrel on 9/10
$53.50/barrel on 10/2
$59.10/barrel on 12/8
$58.81/barrel on 1/17
$54.39/barrel on 2/7

The US just supplanted Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the No.1 oil producing nation in the world. Did you know that coal is still king in 18 US states? The price of gasoline at my West Palm Beach station just slipped in the past week by 10 cents, to $2.29/gallon. Most of the other stations in the area are 20-60 cents more per gallon.
“Coronavirus Is Bruising America’s Oil Patch—How Badly Is the Question: Some already struggling energy companies may not be able to weather the drop in oil and gas demand.” Wall Street Journal

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all Repo Commentary dates):

112.20 on 12/24
108.60 on 01/07
109.07 on 01/16
103.18 on 02/03
104.86 on 2/25
103.86 on 5/17
102.59 on 6/18
102.43 on 7/24
101.72 on 9/10
102.16 on 10/02
102.96 on 12/06
104.30 on 01/17/20
104.80 on 02/07/20

One Euro was trading on:

12/24 at $1.1426
01/07 at $1.1478
01/16 at $1.1396
02/03 at $1.2047
02/25 at $1.1955
05/17 at $1.1761
06/18 at $1.1825
07/24 at $1.1740
09/10 at $1.1623
10/02 at $1.1504
12/06 at $1.1688
01/17 at $1.1721
02/07 at $1.1543

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24 at $1.2655
01/07 at $1.2770
01/16 at $1.2880
02/03 at $1.3758
02/25 at $1.3728
05/17 at $1.3427
06/18 at $1.3157
07/24 at $1.3070
09/10 at $1.2959
10/02 at $1.2882
12/06 at $1.3819
01/17 at $1.3753
02/07 at $1.3574

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24
1.3297 on 01/07
1.3255 on 01/16
1.2492 on 2/03
1.2492 on 2/25
1.2800 on 5/17
1.2740 on 6/18
1.2480 on 7/24
1.2520 on 9/10
1.2560 on 10/02
1.2530 on 12/06
1.2390 on 01/17
1.2640 on 02/07

Gold closed on 9/09 at $1504.90/ounce. On 10/02, it closed at $1498.70/ounce. On 12/6, it closed at $1,464.40. On 1/17, it closed at $1557.30/ounce. Today, it closed at $1,576.20.

Bitcoin was trading at (Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25
$6,350 on 10/5
$3,774.97 on 12/24/18
$3,7774.97 on 01/07
$3,598.90 on 01/16
$3,421.10 on 02/06
$3,826.44 on 02/26
$8,100.00 on 05/16
$7,215.79 on 05/17
$9,088.59 on 06/18
$11,919.30 on 06/25
$9,790.37 on 07/24
$10,183.90 on 09/10
$8,235.46 on 10/02
$7,470.41 on 12/06
$8,876.87 on 01/17/20
$9,793.18 on 02/07/20

After rebounding in 2019 dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer, rallied during the Summer, and tumbled again in Q4, and has rallied in early in 2020.

Global Financial News:

The United Kingdom has officially left the European Union and has begun an 11-month Transition period. Now, the heat is on to determine how passporting will work, how trades need to be repapered, what the jurisdictional differences of agreements are, and how the surviving two geographical entities will work together in the future. Tidjane Thiam has resigned as CEO of Credit Suisse, amidst the bank’s spying scandal. Yahoo reported that banks are rethinking their brick-and-mortar networks and Citizens Bank is now focusing on 3 digital initiatives: Citizens Access, a web-based savings service; a digital student loan product; and partnering with retailers on point-of-sale financing. SEC’s Peirce has proposed allowing crypto firms to sell digital tokens for 3 years before crypto rules are in place. The CBOE announced that profits slid 3%. Sources say, according to Reuters, that Goldman is raising $8 billion for a buyout fund. CME Group President Durkin is stepping down in May. VanEck is launching the first sustainable muni bond ETF. Nick Leeson, the infamous ‘rogue trader’, who has spent time in a Singapore prison after leading Barings Bank to bankruptcy in the 1990s, is offering to share his tips on trading in a monthly subscription and one-on-one mentoring. France, Germany, Italy, and Poland want the EC to move swiftly to overhaul antitrust policies. Those countries would like the path to be easier for mergers of large companies, so they can compete fairly with US and Chinese rivals. Euronext is following the London Stock Exchange and consulting next month on a proposal to shorten the trading day. The PBOC says that the Chinese economy will recover from the hit from the coronavirus outbreak. The global economy was already struggling with the trade war and the virus is another blow. Germany’s industrial production fell 3.5% in December, the biggest decline since 2009. Nationwide strikes in France squashed its output in December, down 2.8%. This data is increasing market rumblings about whether the ECB will be easing further. Hedge fund Elliott Management has reportedly built a SoftBank stake, per WSJ.

US Market News:

The coronavirus, along with weak European data, continue to put a scare into global equity markets, including the US, and sent even the Dow down sharply. But, US markets have recovered with strong US economic news and the Impeachment acquittal. US initial unemployment claims just hit the lowest level in 9 months.

The Dow Jones (global stocks as well), along with other stock indices, were up this morning, after yesterday’s record highs, eclipsing the records set in July 2019.

The Dow Jones closed at (Repo Commentary Dates):

26,656.77 on 9/20/18
26,447.05 on 10/5/18
21,792.20 on 12/23/18
21,712.53 on 12/26/18
24,207.16 on 01/16/19
25,063.89 on 2/06/19
26,106.47 on 2/25/19
25,862.68 on 5/16/19
26,465.54 on 6/18/19
27,269.97 on 7/24/19
26,793.09 on 9/10/19
26,229.31 on 10/02/19
28,015.06 on 12/06/19
29,348.10 on 01/17/20
29,185.07 on 02/07/20 down 194.70 points today

S&P 500 has had a long upward climb with very little volatility. It has risen 27% during the past 12 months. It has risen or fallen less than 1% since mid-October, showing one of the longest periods of low volatility. It has closed on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58
12/26/18 at 2,467.70
01/07/19 at 2,549.69
01/16/19 at 2,616.10
02/06/19 at 2,706.53
02/25/19 at 2,799.34
05/16/19 at 2,876.32
06/18/19 at 2,917.75
07/24/19 at 3,019.56 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 2,969.04
10/02/19 at 2,906.94
12/06/19 at 3,145.91
01/17/20 at 3,329.62
02/07/20 at 3,335.27 down 10.51 from new all-time high

Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28/18 high of 8,030.04, closing on:

10/5/18 at 7,788.45
12/26/18 at 6,554.36
01/07/19 at 6,823.47
01/16/19 at 7,034.70
02/06/19 at 7,263.87
02/25/19 at 7,561.87
05/16/19 at 7,898.05
06/18/19 at 7,953.68
07/24/19 at 8,321.50 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 8,043.58
10/02/19 at 7,809.22
12/06/19 at 8,656.07
01/17/20 at 9,388.95
02/07/20 at 9,555.96 down 16.19 from new all-time high

US Treasury yields have been in free-fall since hitting highs in October 2018. The US Treasury announced that it will start selling a 20year bond during the first half of 2020, in an attempt to help with the budget deficit.

2 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.88%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.53%
01/16/19 at 2.55%
02/06/19 at 2.52%
02/22/19 at 2.48%
05/16/19 at 2.20%
06/18/19 at 1.86%
07/24/19 at 1.83%
09/09/19 at 1.58%
10/01/19 at 1.56%
12/06/19 at 1.61%
01/17/20 at 1.58%
02/06/20 at 1.44%

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%
12/18/18 at 2.64%
01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)
01/16/19 at 2.53%
02/06/19 at 2.50%
02/22/19 at 2.46%
05/16/19 at 2.15%
06/18/19 at 1.80%
07/24/19 at 1.79%
09/09/19 at 1.52%
10/01/19 at 1.51%
12/06/19 at 1.64%
01/17/20 at 1.58%
02/06/20 at 1.43%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.49%
01/16/19 at 2.54%
02/06/19 at 2.51%
02/22/19 at 2.47%
05/16/19 at 2.18%
06/18/19 at 1.83%
07/24/19 at 1.82%
09/09/19 at 1.49%
10/01/19 at 1.51%
12/06/19 at 1.67%
01/17/20 at 1.63%
02/07/20 at 1.45%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%
12/18/18 at 2.74%
01/07/19 at 2.60%
01/16/19 at 2.62%
02/06/19 at 2.59%
02/22/19 at 2.55%
05/16/19 at 2.28%
06/18/19 at 1.93%
07/24/19 at 1.93%
09/09/19 at 1.57%
10/01/19 at 1.59%
12/06/19 at 1.78%
01/17/20 at 1.74%
02/06/20 at 1.56%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%
12/18/18 at 2.82%
01/07/19 at 2.70%
01/16/19 at 2.73%
02/06/19 at 2.70%
02/22/19 at 2.65%
05/16/19 at 2.40%
06/18/19 at 2.06%
07/24/19 at 2.05%
09/09/19 at 1.83%
10/01/19 at 1.65% dramatic drop in one month!
12/06/19 at 1.84% dramatic rise in two months!
01/17/20 at 1.84%
02/06/20 at 1.65% and back down again!

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%
12/18/18 at 3.07%
01/07/19 at 2.99%
01/16/19 at 3.07%
02/06/19 at 3.03%
02/22/19 at 3.02%
05/16/19 at 2.84%
06/18/19 at 2.55%
07/24/19 at 2.58%
09/10/19 at 2.11%
10/01/19 at 2.11%
12/06/19 at 2.29%
01/17/20 at 2.29%
02/06/20 at 2.11%

US Treasury yields finally plummeted over the few weeks, despite the Fed’s continued intervention in the target rate not causing them to move much before that.

Housing News:

According to Freddie Mac, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in the US has reached a 3-year low of 3.45%. In other Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae news, acceptance of Adjustable-Rate mortgages linked to LIBOR will cease by year-end 2020 at both GSEs, and the companies will soon take mortgages based on the Secured Overnight Funding Rate (SOFR), per WSJ interview of my former colleague/partner, Tom Wipf.

Repo News:

In the Securities Financing industry, we are again facing a tsunami of acronyms in regulations and events, much like during the Financial Crisis. ESMA is delaying rules on failed trades by 3 months. LEI rules are being postponed for emerging market securities, as nearly 50% of them still don’t have LEIs. Even 10% of European securities don’t have LEIs.

ESMA’s SFTR Level 3
Brexit
EU Crypto Regs
FCA Crypto Regs
EC Cyber-attack Guidelines
FCA Financial Services Duty of Care Bill/MiFID II
CSDR
LIBOR replacement (SOFR, SOIA, EuSTAR)
EISF
ISLA/ICSF/ESG and short selling
MUR

The Federal Reserve has pumped billions of dollars into the Repo market to keep the short-end liquid, especially through the year-end volatility. They have not only been doing overnight repo operations, but also have an aggressive schedule for term repo operations. These have not only pushed GC repo rates lower, but also have narrowed the spread between GC repo and Fed Funds, below the recent norm of 13-15bp. Recently, the Fed began letting these market operations roll off, reducing the amount of reserves it was pumping into the Repo market. So far, GC repo rates have remained stable. Of course, half of the participants thing that’s because the hot money hasn’t left yet and there is still a problem and the other half of participants thing the structural problem has been solved.

Well, “repo” is the lubricant of the money market system, particularly the issuance of US Treasuries and other bonds, and it only comes up in conversation among non-participants when the gears start squeaking or fail to function, like yelling for WD 40. And, the last time the general public heard about “repo” it was during the Financial Crisis.

I know you’ve seen many articles on the subject of current repo market illiquidity and volatility, I’ve read them too. I think I can summarize them all and add my now 37 years of experience in the Securities Finance market to lay out the causes and possible solutions. (It looks like the Fed implemented some of my suggested solutions.)

To look at the WHY, one need look at what has happened since the Financial Crisis.

¥ The regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve, instituted emergency liquidity programs for different sectors of the money market (CP, Corporate Bonds, Broker/Dealers, GSEs, etc.). They eventually unwound those many programs.
¥ They opened up for a brief time the Discount Window to more participants and without the previous stigma attached, for collateral providers to access cash.
¥ They put FNMA and FHLMC into conservatorship.
¥ They began easing Monetary Policy massively for years.
¥ They began Quantitative Easing and built up the Fed’s balance sheet to $4.5 trillion. They added to it by buying more securities every month from the paydowns on their MBS portfolio.
¥ They propped up some broker/dealers, allowed some to fail, and helped others to consolidate/merge.
¥ The Repo Market shrunk in the US from about $7 trillion to $3 trillion, before recent increase to about $3.6 trillion.
¥ Regulators instituted mountains of new reforms, especially the 310 new rules of Dodd-Frank, globally to decrease the likelihood of systemic risk in the financial system and to force, particularly the broker/dealers and GSIB banks to hold more capital/reserves for liquidity.
¥ The market began looking for alternatives to financing through broker/dealers via CCPs, peer-to-peer financing, Sponsored Repo, and electronic trading platforms. (I’ll be discussing this more at the IMN Conference.)
¥ The Fed began its much hailed RRP program, which added over 300 cash providers from the Repo market to finance the Fed’s balance sheet and provide ‘liquidity’ for those cash providers.
¥ The Fed stopped QE and began reducing their balance sheet down to $2.5 trillion.
¥ The US Treasury began ramping up issuance to the tune of about $1 trillion more, which is funneled through the 24 primary broker/dealers and the central banks.
¥ The Fed began tightening monetary policy and tinkering with new measures of repo rates and LIBOR replacement. They also began tinkering with the Interest on Excess Reserves (IOER) from banks and credit unions, to try to create higher reserves.
¥ The Fed did an about face and began easing monetary policy. They also lowered IOER. They now raised IOER by 5bp in the last FOMC meeting.
That’s not everything that happened, but that gives you the broad strokes. And just in those bullet points, I see many of the contributing factors of the recent dislocation of the repo market. And, by the way, that actually refutes Mr. Memani’s later comment that “Nothing much has happened in the money markets since financial crisis. A lot more happened in those 11 years than happened in the 26 years that I was in the money markets.

I believe the reasons we had dislocations last quarter come down to a major imbalance of bank reserves, behavior not consistent with expectation, illiquidity in the repo market (rather than the highly touted increase in liquidity), concentration risk, a corporate tax date that removed cash from the repo market, humongous new supply of US treasuries being issued, many Repo market participants out of the Federal Reserve direct loop, and a mountain of hundreds of new regulations that broker/dealers (and others) are trying to still absorb and position reserves/capital, personnel, and trading strategies for. As you can see, there are a lot of balls in the air!

I’m not sure why participants and regulators didn’t foresee an imbalance (lack of) bank reserves. The piles of new regulations that regulators gave to the money markets fundamentally required banks to hold more reserves versus balance sheets (which repo is the major contributor to), the low yields may have encouraged banks to use reserves elsewhere in more profitable areas than repo (they are profit-motivated, as they should be), and the Fed lowered the IOER which may have disincented banks from depositing reserves at the Fed. The decrease in the Fed’s balance sheet came at the cost of the market absorbing those securities. The US Treasury issuing phenomenal amounts of securities that have to be taken by the 24 primary dealers (already full up on balance sheets they are trying to reduce) and the central banks/swfs (who already have $14 trillion of US Treasuries, should have been know as a potential clog in the system. Plus, with the Fed lowering rates, the returns on those US Treasuries would be lower for those new owners. And the central banks ownership of US Treasuries is another complicated story, one of ripple effects. They can’t really sell US Treasuries into this market, without having some issue with the US Government, whichever branch. But, yet, many of them need to support their currency, particularly against the US Dollar. So, some of them enter the Repo market to repo the US Treasuries to receive US Dollars to then buy their own currencies with, propping up their currency by kicking the can somewhat down the road, until their GDP rises or oil prices rise (raising their specific GDP). Layer over that macroeconomic soup a topping of trade wars and tariffs, it becomes rather complex to predict. And, that brings me to my last observation, that unintended consequences arose from the hundreds of regulations foisted on the money market, mainly because market behavior is not that predictive. Regulators thought that if they made the system safer, more investors would come in, but yet the repo market didn’t grow that much, but yet supply from the Fed and from the US Treasury increased dramatically. Regulators thought that if the banks had more reserves and capital, they would pass that on to the buyside, but that didn’t take into account their profit motivations and individual bank idiosyncricies. Lastly, the regulators didn’t expect the perfect storm of added supply, taxes withdrawn, cash out of the system, reserves lower, and tools that would work directly only on the 24 primary dealers and the 300 cash providers in RRP. I’ve been remarking for years, since the RRP, that there was not a comparable program for collateral providers/leveraged players in the Repo market. Steve Malekian went further to say, a year ago, that the newly touted liquidity of the Repo market was “only for Platinum accounts.” It was only for select buyside clients.

So, the Fed needs to do something. And, I don’t mean just the Overnight operations with the 24 primary dealers. I can’t even predict what those dealers’ positions are or how the added liquidity would flow to the buyside clients. The extra cash could be used to fund their Swaps desk, the Repo Desk, other outright traders, Platinum accounts, or speculatively with leveraged accounts (as a few savvy broker/dealers have seen that opportunity and gone short to reverse in at higher rates from leveraged accounts and supply balance sheet). The point is that the mound of regulations and the open market operations and the tinkering with the IOER are supposed to impact banks and broker/dealers in such a way to induce certain behavior, but behavior is unique. So, the Fed needs to go back to its ample toolkit (and get people who have been there at least 10 years) to:
¥ Implement more term RPs, to give the market some faith and reduce Fed reputational risk
¥ Purchase securities, either US Treasuries or Agency MBS, increasing the Fed balance sheet (although this may be difficult because there were probably several good reasons why they decreased it.)
¥ Open the Discount Window to more participants, with NO stigma attached (it used to be how one in the market knew who was having a liquidity crisis), and other sectors represented.
¥ Create a collateral provider facility, similar to RRP, or help reduce the hurdles, like CCLF for CCPs and Sponsored Repo type ventures to increase liquidity.
¥ Tinker the IOER rate UP, rather than down, to increase the Reserves at the Fed.
¥ Support/encourage Repo done outside of the 24 primary dealers, helping collateral providers find cash providers, when certain broker/dealers are balance sheet full and capital restrained from the very regulations that the Fed was involved in. I hope that didn’t come out too angry. I think systemic risk reduction is a huge priority and I am worried about firesale risk (although I don’t think moving the sale down the road to 7 days or 30 days changes firesale risk, it just changes the date of the firesale).
¥ Have the Fed be a permanent backstop to the Repo market.
The bottom line is that the money markets, particularly the securities finance market (Repo & Securities Lending) is still trying to find its footing, particularly as the Repo market has shrunk, while Treasury supply has increased.

I still see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for ALL collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers, which has been volatile but certainly widened since the Financial Crisis, and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis, which not only subjected clients to dealer defaults and wider spreads, but in many cases directly impacted clients by making them suddenly the outright traders of repo collateral. Some of that collateral, on top of it, was very illiquid. Not knowing who the other clients were on the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book, and who could potentially bring down those intermediary dealers was costly for many clients. Clearly, with that pipeline of is intermediation becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets (which has recovered partially with new entrants to the market and international banks’ increases due to regulatory arbitrage) being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be explored for cash provider and collateral provider clients. My former baby, AVM’s Direct Repo™, was the first of one of such pathways, over 10 years ago. Since then, many other liquidity pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agented repo through seclending agents and some prime brokers to buyside clients, direct lending from beneficial owners to hedge funds who are short via their agents, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations of their custodial clients, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like (BNY DBVX, State Street’s Cash Cross), FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products for certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, dealer to dealer and some clients electronic trading platforms (like GLMX, HQLAx, LMX, BNY DBVX, DealerWeb, and Tradeweb), other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (like Eurex, LCH Clearnet, OCC, FICC, CDCC, and SCH), total return swaps platforms (like WeMatch.com), and collateralized loan exchanges (like AFX/CBOE.) There have still been other firms that have created some kind of product that mimics a repo, but yet doesn’t show up on dealers’ balance sheets (so helps them), and/or provides better credit counterparties (so helps clients), and can take many forms. I believe this overall evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used in some part, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers. Some of that balance sheet has returned, as I mentioned above, but maybe for only select ‘platinum’ clients and may come at a higher bid/offer spread or in specific, more profitable products/securities, as other market observers/experts have said.

Brink published an interesting article on the State of the Financial Services Industry, saying that banks and investors say digital/electronic is important in their strategies, but its implementation is less visible. The report listed 5 reasons for lackluster performance: opposing priorities, lack of experts in C suites, no solid implementation plan, risks in a modular system, and stoppage of work after launch.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:
 

• Deutsche Borse/Clearstream/Securities Lending Times held their annual GFF Summit in Luxembourg, 1/28-1/30/20, which I attended two years ago.
• IMN 26th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance conference will be held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/12-2/13/20. I was the Chairperson in 2019 and will be a moderator this year. I hope to see many of you there!
• iMoneyNet/Informa has yet to announce its annual MMExpo, after the merger. I have spoken at this one several times.
• PASLA/RMA will hold its 17th annual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Tokyo, Japan on 3/3-3/5/20.
• GIOA will hold its 16th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/18-3/20/20. I have spoken (and sung) at this one. I may attend.
• Crane Data will hold its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Boston, MA on 3/23-3/24/20.
• IHS Markit will hold its annual Securities Finance Forum in London, England on 3/24/20.
• Finadium will hold its 4th annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/13-5/14/20. I’ve spoken and sponsored this one.
• GFOA will hold its gigantic 114th (wow!) annual conference in Los Angeles on 5/17-5/20/20. I have attended this one in the past.
• IMN/AFME will hold its annual Global Bank ABS (West) conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/16-6/18/20.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Nashville, TN on 6/8-6/10/20.
• ISLA will hold its 29th Annual Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Vienna, Austria on 6/23-6/25/20. I have spoken (and sung) at this one before.
• ICMA/Securities Lending Times will hold their annual AGM and conference also in Vienna, Austria, on 6/24-6/26/20.
• Crane Data will hold its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26/20 in Minneapolis, MN. I heard there were 580 attendees in Boston last year. I have spoken at this conference before.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in San Diego, CA on 9/13-9/16/20. I’ve spoken and sung at this one.
• IMN will hold its annual European Securities Finance conference in London, England on 9/15-9/16/20. I’ve attended this before.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/22-9/24/20.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 10/5-10/7/20. I’ve attended this before and might again.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders 2020 conference in Barcelona, Spain on 10/12-10/14/20.
• RMA will hold its 38th annual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Amelia Island, FL on October 12-15. I saw many of you last year in Boca Raton. It was my 37th RMA I’ve attended.
• Crane Data has yet to announce its annual European Money Fund Symposium.
• Finadium has yet to announce its 4th annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe.
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its large annual conference in Las Vegas, NV on 10/18-10/21/20.
• Finadium has yet to announce its Rates & Repo conference in New York. I’ve spoken and sponsored this one.
• Risk.net has yet to announce its 26th annual Risk USA conference. I’ve chaired this one.
• SIFMA has yet to announce its annual Meeting.

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 1.50-1.75% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while), after the FOMC lowered it on 7/31/19 and again on 9/18/19 and again on 12/4/19. The Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR), as reported by the Federal Reserve, was 1.88% on 10/1/19.

For you youngsters, particularly the ones freaking out about the Fed doing daily RP operations, the Federal Reserve used to not telegraph what it was doing in monetary policy. It would simply come in (and not on scheduled dates like FOMC meetings) and add or drain reserves by announcing a Customer RP, System RP, or Matched Sales. We would then all scramble, as the market absorbed the news, and try to figure out how much they did and where the Fed Funds rate would settle.

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. That rate on 2/6/20 was 1.58%.

The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is supposed to be a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities. It is also reported by the NY Fed on its website. It has been controversial and has been considered as a possible replacement for LIBOR. SOFR includes trades in the Broad General Collateral Rate of Repo plus bilateral Treasury Repo transactions cleared through the DVP services at CCP FICC, ostensibly filtering out issues trading Special. However, critics (and I am one) say that it only picks up the Offered Side of Repo (not a median), that it only picks up the small amount of DVP transactions cleared at FICC and Triparty Repo done at Bank of NY, ignoring the growing amount of bilateral (non-Triparty) repo being done peer-to-peer, dealer-to-dealer, and client-to-dealer, outside of FICC. It is a good representation of where Money Funds (except for a few savvy ones who trade peer-to-peer) are paid on their cash versus US Treasuries in Repo each day by broker/dealers. It almost completely ignores other sectors, particularly buyside clients with collateral. That all being said, the current SOFR reported by the Fed for 2/07/20 was 1.59%.

The next FOMC meetings (and they are all two-day meetings so these are the second day, when they actually announce) are: 3/18/20, 4/29/20, 6/10/20, 7/29/20, 9/16/20, 11/5/20, and 12/16/20.

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15/19, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market. So, if RRP is not extinct, it is certainly now dormant, occasionally coming out of hibernation for year-ends and quarter-ends, when liquidity becomes very strange.

In December 2018, at the FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%
12/13/18 to 2.50%

But, then the Federal Reserve paused. Suddenly, on 7/31/19, the Fed eased the Fed Funds target rate to 2.25%, and then did another rate cut by 0.25% to 2.00% on 9/17/19. Technically, that rate is the top end of a 25bp rate spread that the Fed considers its current target rate (1.75%-2.00%). The reversal in monetary policy is expected to continue, with perhaps one more rate cut by the Fed in 2019. The FOMC actually held an unscheduled meeting on 10/4/19, but did not change monetary policy at that meeting. But, on 12/11/19, the Fed, somewhat expectedly, lowered the Fed Funds target range to 1.50-1.75%, down another 25bp. They only raised the IOER by 5bp on 1/29, but didn’t change the Fed target rate.

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For reference, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007, at or near the beginning of the Financial Crisis.

The Fed’s vice chair Quarles suggests that policymakers could adopt several options that would allow financial firms flexibility on liquidity requirements, such as making it easier for banks to treat US Treasuries like bank reserves. That would probably have an impact on the liquidity issues seen in Q4 2019, when reserves were much lower than the Fed expected, retained by banks, and not in the system. The Fed had to supply massive amounts of reserves to the system to alleviate the situation. The Fed says it wants to now look at leveraged loans and collateralized loan obligations in bank stress testing, and see how these significant trading operations cope with a recession.

“Fed’s Randal Quarles Calls Current Stance on Interest Rates Appropriate: Federal Reserve Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles said Thursday he sees no imminent need to alter the Fed’s short-term interest rate target, in remarks that took stock of how regulators can improve liquidity in money markets.” Wall Street Journal

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Last month’s major 6.4 earthquake (and subsequent aftershocks) in Puerto Rico, which knocked out power again on the island again, was a very rare occurrence, something that happens in 75-450 years. Yet, we just had another 7.7 earthquake west of Puerto Rico and south of Cuba this week. This second Caribbean quake in as many weeks is being felt in Miami and up the East coast of Florida. We prepare for hurricanes and lightning, but are not used to earthquakes here. I’m looking at a global map of the teutonic plates and I see that much of the activity is down the entire west side of the Pacific plate and northwestern South American plate. This is just 2 days of earthquakes 4.5 and above magnitude:

2/07 5.5 Drake Passage
2/07 4.5 Caburan, Philippines
2/07 4.5 Ndoi Island, Fiji
2/07 4.6 Vanuatu region
2/07 5.0 Macquarie Island
2/07 4.6 Al Aunfidhad, Saudi Arabia
2/07 5.0 Enarotali, Indonesia
2/07 4.9 Agrihan, Northern Mariana Islands
2/07 4.7 Palaikastron, Greece
2/07 4.6 Caburan, Philippines
2/07 4.5 Nehe, China
2/06 4.6 Grande Anse, Guadelupe
2/06 4.8 Pisangkemeng, Indonesia
2/06 4.5 Tobelo, Indonesia
2/06 4.8 Sarangani, Philippines
2/06 6.0 Pondaquitan, Philippines
2/06 5.3 Takahagi, Japan
2/06 5.1 L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand
2/06 5.2 Neochorion, Greece
2/06 4.9 Abepura, Indonesia

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st and ends November 30th. For the 2019 storm season, CSU, which has been the most used, forecast a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. It turned out to be the 4th year in a row of above-average damaging seasons. We had 18 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. It became the 7th year that there were multiple Category-5 hurricanes in one season.

The Pacific Hurricane Season starts 5/1/20 and ends 11/1/20.

As for the weather, Florida is cool 60s and 70s and very windy. Antarctica set a record high temperature (64.9 degrees) and yesterday’s high was more like the average for San Diego or Houston.

Sports News:

MLB:

The 2019 MLB regular season began 3/28 last year and ended on 9/30 (more than 6 months). The World Series went 7 games, and the Washington Nationals, who were in the Postseason for the first time, beat the Houston Astros, who won the World Series in 2017, 4 games to 3 games. The cool thing, from my perspective, is that they share the same brand new Spring Training facility right here in West Palm Beach, FL, and I sing the National Anthem for both teams several times during Spring Training, and have just auditioned for both 2020 Spring Training for the Cardinals, Marlins, Astros, and Nationals.

Speaking of Spring Training, catchers and pitchers report February 11th, and Spring Training games start in March. But, the face of baseball has forever changed. MLB, which had been investigating allegations of cheating by the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros and 2018 World Series champion Boston Red Sox, came down with harsh punishments for the Astros: a fine of $5mm, loss of their next first round and second round draft picks, and suspension for one year of their manager and their GM. The Astros immediately fired both men, after the announcement. That will have a huge impact on the team that came in 2nd place in 2019. The common denominator between the 2017 Astros and 2018 Red Sox was then Astros’ bench coach and now Red Sox manager, Alex Cora. He was allegedly instrumental in the method of cheating using technology to steal signs from other teams, and brought that method and lack of respect for the game of baseball with him to the Red Sox in 2018. Red Sox management obviously feels so too, as they just fired him, even before he is disciplined by MLB. There are many analysts who think he should get a lifetime ban (including Hank Aaron), like Pete Rose received for probably a lesser offense. MLB is definitely showing that it means business and will not tolerate this type of cheating, with huge consequences if any team does. It is having more ripple effects too, as Carlos Beltran, a former Astros’ player in 2017, and new coach of the Mets, resigned even before his first season as coach. He was the only player who was named as allegedly participating in the cheating while with the Astros. I was about to tell you all the new MLB managers for this season, and then suddenly 2 get fired and one quits. Hard to replace a manager (and a GM) right before Spring Training. There is a rumor that the Red Sox may pick their former catcher and captain, Jason Varitek, to manage. Another crowd favorite would be Dustin Pedroia, but he still wants to play again. By the way, at the end of the season, the Red Sox also fired their President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, because of their poor 2019 season. Chaim Bloom replaced him and now has to hire a manager. The Astros have interviewed Buck Showalter for the manager job. The Twins have landed 3B Josh Donaldson from the Braves for 4years/$92 million. The Pirates’ new manager is Derek Shelton. The Giants’ new manager is Gabe Kapler. The Red Sox, one of the most prosperous franchises in sports, in an effort to simply reduce their luxury tax by $20 million (and not deal with Free Agency in a year), broke my heart and dealt arguably the 2nd best player in baseball, former MVP Mookie Betts, along with ace David Price, to the Dodgers in a 3-team deal. The Red Sox will receive OF Alex Verdugo, a couple of prospects, and a hot dog vendor. The Twins get starter Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers. The Red Sox, in turn, get a pitching prospect from the Twins. The Dodgers beat out their rival Padres in the Betts’ sweepstakes, but it is only a one year contract in their hopes to beat the Nationals in the NL this year. After that, Betts becomes a free agent and will likely become the next $300 million (or even $400 million) contract player. Hopefully, not with the Yankees, which would just add salt in my wound. I can’t help but see the move by new GM Chaim Bloom as the Red Sox wholesale dumping of players to rebuild. I see them possibly trading away DH J.D. Martinez, CF Jackie Bradley, Jr., and ace Nathan Evaldi in the near future. And they still don’t have a manager, right before Spring Training. The winter has seen Astros’ ace Gerrit Cole get a big deal from the Yankees, Dodgers’ slugger Anthony Rendon to the Angels (where the best player, Mike Trout plays) for 7years/$245 million, and World Series MVP ace Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals deciding to stay with the Nats for 7years/$245 million. The Mets failed to sell their team, which probably means the Wilpons will just frustrate their fans again. The Rays are still planning to play in two cities.

The Hall of Fame Committee decided the 2020 class of inductees. It was almost guaranteed that Derek Jeter would be unanimously inducted on his first year of eligibility. But some unknown BBWAA voter of 397 voted ‘no’ upsetting the unanimous vote. Jeter missed by one vote his teammate (Mariano Rivera’s) 2019 unanimous vote. The 2020 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot featured 32 candidates. Results from this vote were announced on 1/21/20. Only Jeter and Larry Walker received enough votes to become part of the 333 elected members of the Hall of Fame. 134 of those members have come through the BBWAA ballot method.

The Modern Baseball Era ballot featured 10 candidates for consideration:

Dwight Evans (one of my favorites)
Steve Garvey
Tommy John
Don Mattingly (another favorite of mine)
Marvin Miller
Thurman Munson (beloved)
Dale Murphy
Dave Parker
Ted Simmons
Lou Whitaker
Matt Kelly

“Modern Baseball” is one of four rotating eras considered by the Hall of Fame’s Veteran Committee, not the writers. It evaluates candidates whose primary contributions to baseball came between 1970-87. The list was compiled by 11 veteran baseball historians. A 16-member group of veterans decided in December. You needed 75% of the vote to get in. They gave enough votes for Marvin Miller and Ted Simmons, so they will be inducted in July 2020.

Golf:

Canadian Nick Taylor currently leads the 3 course AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. He is tied with Chris Baker, one stroke ahead of Jason Day. Ernie Els will not return as Presidents Cup captain for the International team in 2021. The USGA has declared that distance increases must stop, after a two-year study of how far the golf ball is flying. They want to put an end to the continuing cycle of ever-increasing hitting distances and golf course lengths. Maybe they should use those distance-reduced golf balls at many golf ranges, Top Golf, and Drive Shack. Jordan Spieth is about to fall out of the World Top 50! The Honda Classic is coming to Palm Beach Gardens, FL soon at PGA National.

The European Tour schedule for 2020 season:

¥ 11/28-12/1/19 Hong Kong Open
¥ 11/28-12/1/19 Alfred Dunhill Championship
¥ 12/5-12/8/19 Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open
¥ 12/19-12/22/19 Australian PGA Championship
¥ 1/9-1/12/20 South African Open
¥ 1/16-1/19 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
¥ 1/23-1/26 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
¥ 1/30-2/2 Saudi International
¥ 2/6-2/9 ISPS Handa Vic Open
¥ 2/20-2/23 WGC-Mexico Championship
¥ 2/27-3/1 Oman Open
¥ 3/5-3/8 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
¥ 3/12-3/15 Magical Kenya
¥ 3/19-3/22 Hero Indian Open
¥ 3/25-3/29 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
¥ 4/9-4/12 The Masters
¥ 4/16-4/19 Maybank Championship
¥ 4/23-4/26 Volvo China Open
¥ 4/30-5/3 Estrella D. Andalucia Masters
¥ 5/9-5/10 GolfSixes Cascals
¥ 5/14-5/17 US PGA Championship
¥ 5/21-5/24 Made in Denmark
¥ 5/28-5/31 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
¥ 6/4-6/7 Trophee Hassan II
¥ 6/11-6/14 Scandinavian Invitation
¥ 6/18-6/21 US Open
¥ 6/25-6/28 BMW International Open
¥ you have to believe that I had no idea this would be so long and that I just wanted to be helpful/informational…
¥ 7/2-7/5 Open de France
¥ 7/2-7/5 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational
¥ 7/9-7/12 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open
¥ 7/16-7/19 The 149th Open (British Open)
¥ 7/30-8/2 Betfred British Masters
¥ 7/30-8/2 Olympic Men’s Golf Competition
¥ 8/6-8/9 UK event
¥ 8/20-8/23 D+D Real Czech Masters
¥ 8/27-8/30 Omega European Masters
¥ 9/3-9/6 Porsche European Open
¥ at least I can keep this in the Commentary and just update it for the next year…
¥ 9/10-9/13 BMW PGA Championship
¥ 9/17-9/20 KLM Open
¥ 9/25-9/27 The 2020 Ryder Cup
¥ 10/1-10/4 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
¥ 10/8-10/11 Italian Open
¥ 10/15-10/18 Mutuactivos Open de Espana
¥ 10/22-10/25 Portugal Masters
¥ 10/29-11/1 WGC-HSC Champions
¥ 11/5-11/8 Turkish Airlines Open
¥ 11/12-11/15 Nedbank Golf Challenge
¥ 11/19-11/22 DP World Tour Championship

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season ended with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive battle 13-3 in the Super Bowl. The 100th NFL season ended Sunday night, in Miami, in an entertaining 31-20 comeback victory for the Kansas City Chiefs over the San Francisco 49ers. The win was coach Andy Reid’s 222nd victory as an NFL head coach (Eagles, Packers, Chiefs) and first Super Bowl victory! Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes became the youngest QB to ever win a Super Bowl. Chiefs’ Rashad Fenton won the Super Bowl in the very same stadium where he used to work in a concession. The Chiefs had not won a Super Bowl since Super Bowl IV, 52 years ago, snapping the longest drought of any NFL team. It was a rocky start for the Chiefs, with Mahomes throwing his first 2 interceptions in 160 passes and in the Playoffs, and the 49ers taking a 10-point lead into the final 9 minutes. But, Super Bowl MVP Mahomes led the Chiefs to 3 consecutive TD drives in that last 9 minutes and the Chiefs’ wound up picking off 49ers QB Jimmy Garrappolo twice. See my singing review in the Entertainment section. The Bengals have the No.1 pick in the Draft.

The XFL 2020 season begins shortly, 12 weeks beginning in February 8th, and running through April. There will be 43 games, including playoffs which will determine the champion of the restarted 8-team football league. The XLF East includes the D.C. Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis Battlehawks, and Tampa Bay Vipers. The XLF West includes the Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, and Seattle Dragons. Fox, ABC and ESPN will carry all the games. If you are missing football that much, you will recognize some former college and NFL players.

NCAA Football:

After about 100 bowl games (it seems) over many weeks, the College Football Playoffs came down to 4 teams: No.1 and unbeaten LSU made easy work of No.4 Oklahoma 63-28 on 12/28, and No.3 Clemson won a close battle over No.2 Ohio State 29-23, on the same day. That left LSU to play Clemson for College Football National Championship, which they did this week on Monday. Despite LSU playing in the New Orleans Superdome (so, a home field/crowd advantage), and having the Heisman Trophy-winning QB Joe Burrow, they were down in the 2nd quarter 17-7 to Clemson star QB Trevor Lawrence, but came roaring back by halftime, and won 42-25, winning their first National Title since 2007. Seven LSU players already are entering the NFL Draft. Clemson won the National Title last year and this was their 4th time in 5 years of being in the Finals. Virginia Tech’s Fuente is out of running to coach Baylor. LSU’s coach Ed Orgeron won Bryant Award as top college coach. To pour salt in my wounds, underachieving Michigan State’s legendary coach, Dantonio, has retired.

Here is the post-bowl, final AP Top 25 Poll:

1. LSU 13-0
2. Clemson 14-1
3. Ohio State 13-1
4. Georgia 12-2
5. Oregon 12-2
6. Florida 11-2
7. Oklahoma 12-2
8. Alabama 11-2
9. Penn State 11-2
10. Minnesota 11-2
11. Wisconsin 10-4
12. Notre Dame 11-2
13. Baylor 11-3
14. Auburn 9-4
15. Iowa 10-3
16. Utah 11-3
17. Memphis 12-2
18. Michigan 9-4
19. Appalachian State 13-1
20. Navy 11-2
21. Cincinnati 11-3
22. Air Force 11-2
23. Boise State 12-2
24. UCF 10-3
25. Texas 8-5

NCAA Hockey

Near the halfway point of the college hockey season, analysts are seeing Cornell University (my alma mater) and North Dakota as legitimate national title contenders to be in the Frozen Four. The beanpot tourney in TD Garden in Boston will feature a final of Northeastern and Boston University.

NCAA Basketball

The college basketball season is rushing towards March Madness. Pre-season No.1 ranked Michigan State just lost to Penn State, their 6th loss, tumbling them down in the rankings. There have been a lot of favorites and high-ranked teams upset this year. Here is the current AP Top 25 about two-thirds through this regular season:

1. Baylor 19-1
2. Gonzaga 23-1
3. Kansas 18-3
4. San Diego State 23-0
5. Louisville 19-3
6. Dayton 20-2
7. Duke 18-3
8. FSU 18-3
9. Maryland 17-4
10. Villanova 17-4
11. Auburn 19-2
12. Seton Hall 16-5
13. West Virginia 17-4
14. Oregon 18-5
15. Kentucky 16-5
16. Michigan State 16-6
17. Iowa 16-6
18. LSU 17-4
19. Butler 17-5
20. Illinois 16-6
21. Creighton 17-5
22. Penn State 16-5
23. Arizona 15-6
24. Colorado 17-5
25. Houston 17-5

NHL:

Last season ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Bruins 4-3 in the Finals. The puck dropped on this season on 10/2/19. The All-Star Games (it is a round-robin event now over 2 days) were held, and although the Eastern Conference-Atlantic Division lost in the finals, it’s Captain, Bruins’ Pastrnok took home the MVP trophy.

I know that the season is 82 games (we are more than halfway point), followed by a seemingly endless playoff that should end again in June, but here are the current standings. In the Eastern Conference: in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins are in first with a smoking 33-10-12 record (best in NHL), with the Lightning in second; in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals are in first with a 36-13-5 record (2nd best in the NHL), followed by the Penguins in second. In the Western Conference: in the Central Division, the Stanley Cup Champion Blues are in first place at 32-15-8 (the 3rd best in the NHL), followed by the Avalanche in second and the surprising Stars in close third; in the Pacific Division, the Canucks lead with a 30-20-5 record, and the Golden Knights are just ahead of the Oilers for second place. The worst team in the NHL right now are the Red Wings, boasting a dreadful 13-38-4 record. Ovechkin is just two goals away from scoring his 700th goal. Leafs’ goalie Andersen will miss at least 2 games with neck injury. Leafs’ Ceci will be out indefinitely with ankle injury. Wild’s Parise will play in his 1000th game against Stars. Trade rumors have begun. The Rangers are meeting with Kreider about his future with the team and the Leafs and Lightning could be interested. Glennie, a longtime Maple Leaf, died at age 73. Golden Knights’ goalie Fleury just passed Lundqvist for 5th on NHL wins list with 460. The Lightning have moved past the Penguins and Blues to No.3 in power rankings. The Blue Jackets jumped 4 spots, while the Panthers fell 5 spots. Blues’ Steen played in his 1000th game. The NHL and NHLPA will resume negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement.

NBA:

This year, the NBA season did not start until 10/22/19, 18 days later than last year. We are more than halfway through the season already. The Warriors traded D’Angelo Russell to the Timberwolves for Andrew Wiggins. The NBA Trade Deadline is today. Danny Ainge and the Celtics did nothing. The Grizzlies traded Iguodala to the Heat. The Rockets will face challenges without a center. Westbrook joined the 20,000-point club. The All-Star game is coming. The Cavs acquired Andre Drummond. LeBron and Giannis draft their rosters. A Kobe Bryant memorial has been set for 2/24 at the Staples Center, where he spent his career.

The current standings are: Eastern Conference has No.1 Bucks, No.2 Raptors, No.3 Celtics, No.4 Heat, No.5 Pacers, No.6 76ers, and the rest are well behind; Western Conference has No.1 Lakers, No.2 Clippers, No.3 Nuggets, No.4 Rockets, No.5 Jazz, No.6 Thunder, No.7 Mavs, and the rest are well behind.

Fighting:

Conor McGregor returned to UFC to beat Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone at UFC 246. UFC 247 weigh-in has already happened. WBA/IBF bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue was named Boxer of the Year by the Japan Boxing Commission. The big fight between heavyweights, undefeated Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce, is on for 4/11 at The O2 in London. The PayPerView rematch between WBC heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder and former champion Tyson Fury will be 2/22 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Tennis:

In Match in Africa 6, for charity, Roger Federer and Bill Gates beat Rafael Nadal and Trevor Noah, in Cape Town Stadium.

Horse Racing:

Hall of Fame rider Prado is only 10 wins away from catching Icon Cordero.

Racing:

In the NASCAR Cup Series of 2019, Kyle Busch won in the last race at Homestead. In 2018, the winner was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead. Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017. The 2020 regular season will begin in February with the Daytona 500. Here is the complete schedule of races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2020 and the results:

2/16 Daytona 500
2/23 Las Vegas, Jiffy Lube Pennzoil 400
3/1 Auto Club 400
3/8 Phoenix, FanShield 500
3/15 Atlanta, Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
3/22 Homestead, Dixie Vodka 400
3/29 Texas, O’Reilly Auto Parts 500
4/5 Bristol, Food City 500
4/19 Richmond, Toyota Owners 400
4/26 Talladega, GEICO 500
5/3 Dover, NASCAR Cup Race at Dover
5/9 Martinsville, NASCAR Cup Race at Martinsville
5/16 Charlotte, NASCAR All Star Open
5/24 Charlotte, Coca-Cola 600
5/31 Kansas, Kansas 400
6/7 Michigan, FireKeepers Casino 400
6/14 Sonoma, Toyota/Save Mart 350
6/21 Chicagoland, Chicagoland 400
6/28 Pocono, Worry-Free Weather Guarantee 350
7/5 Indianapolis, Big Machine Vodka 400
7/11 Kentucky, Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart
7/19 New Hampshire, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301
8/9 Michigan, Consumers Energy 400
8/16 Watkins Glen, Go Bowling at The Glen
8/23 Dover, Drydene 400
8/29 Daytona, Coke Zero Sugar 400
playoffs:
9/6 Darlington, Southern 500
9/12 Richmond, Federated Auto Parts 400
9/19 Bristol, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
9/27 Las Vegas, South Point 400
10/4 Talladega, Alabama 500
10/11 Charlotte, Bank of America ROVAL 400
10/18 Kansas, Hollywood Casino 400
10/25 Texas, Texas 500
11/1 Martinsville, NASCAR Cup Fall Race
11/8 Phoenix, NASCAR Cup Series Championship

Formula One begins with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That will be followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule. Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar and results (it might be easier to just say which races were not won by Lewis Hamilton). I will be posting the 2020 Formula One calendar in the next Repo Commentary:

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne-won by V. Bottas
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by Lewis Hamilton
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg-won by Max Verstappen
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone-won by Lewis Hamilton
7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim-won by Max Verstappen
8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest-Lewis Hamilton
9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa-Charles Leclerc
9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza-Charles Leclerc
9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore-Sebastian Vettel
9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi-Lewis Hamilton
10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka-V. Bottas
10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City-Lewis Hamilton
11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX-V. Bottas
11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo-M. Verstappen
12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

Here is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar and results (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars). The season just ended, with Josef Newgarden coming in 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for the championship. I will be posting the 2020 calendar in the next Repo Commentary:

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg-Josef Newgarden
3/24 Circuit of the Americas-Colton Herta
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama-Takuma Sato
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach-Alexander Rossi
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis-Simon Pagenaud
5/26 Indianapolis 500-Simon Pagenaud
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1-Josef Newgarden
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2-Scott Dixon
6/8 Texas Grand Prix-Josef Newgarden
6/23 Road America-Alexander Rossi
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto-Simon Pagenaud
7/20 Iowa 300-Josef Newgarden
7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio-Scott Dixon
8/18 Pocono Grand Prix-Will Power (I love that name!)
8/24 Gateway Grand Prix-Takuma Sato
9/1 Grand Prix of Portland-Will Power (that’s all it takes)
9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca-Colton Herta

Travel News:

Boeing’s woes continue. US officials and US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin expect US GDP growth to dip below 3% because of the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max jets. A fire broke out today at California’s Disneyland near Main Street. A Singapore couple were forced to attend their own wedding via Livestream due to coronavirus fears. Virgin Voyages is swapping key cards for bands made from recycled ocean plastic. New Yorkers can no longer apply for Global Entry. At least 3 people are dead, after a Pegasus Airlines plane skidded off a runway and broke into pieces with 177 people on board. 8 Americans on Princess cruise ship tested positive for coronavirus. Guam has barred Holland-America cruise ship, Westerdam, sailing from Singapore. It was also turned away from the Philippines, Taiwan, and Taipei. On Thursday, 5 ports in Japan announced that it would not allow the 30-day cruise ship to dock. Currently, the ship is sailing through the East China Sea. Holland America said it was in discussions with the US State Department, the US Navy, and the Dutch government to try and find a solution. Passengers spent $10,000-20,000 for the month-long cruise. In Hong Kong, 3,600 people aboard the World Dream cruise liner have been under quarantine for 3 days, after a number of passengers from a FORMER voyage tested positive for the coronavirus. There is now a Japanese cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, being used as a coronavirus quarantine and passengers are scared and angry. Some of the passengers are American and described ambulances lined up on land ready to receive the increasing toll of passengers diagnosed with the deadly virus. There are more than 3,700 people on board, including 2,600 passengers, of whom 428 are American. So far, 61 passengers have tested positive. One passenger, author Gay Courter, contacted Medjet, her insurance company, which is willing to send a crisis extraction team to evacuate her. However, the US and Japanese governments won’t allow that to happen. Travelers from mainland China will be isolated for 14 days in new efforts by Hong Kong to stem the coronavirus.

Health News:

The WHO declared the outbreak of respiratory disease from a novel coronavirus to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. That is the 6th time the WHO has used that measure since the H1N1 bird flu pandemic of 2009. The outbreak began in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province. People developed pneumonia without a clear cause and for which existing treatments were not effective. The virus has also shown evidence of human-to-human transmission and, it is believed, that transmission can occur from those humans not even showing symptoms of the disease. The disease can be fatal and has an incubation period of 2 to 14 days. Thousands of cases have now been reported in several countries across Europe, North America, and Asia-Pacific. As of 2/6/20, there were 31,526 cases confirmed, including in every province of China. 613 deaths have so far been confirmed. In response, Chinese cities with a combined population of over 57 million people, which includes Wuhan and 15 other surrounding cities, were placed on full or partial lockdown, and public transportation and outward transport was suspended. Hong Kong also raised its infectious disease response level to the highest level and declared an emergency, closing its schools until March and cancelling its New Year celebrations. The Chinese doctor who sounded the alarm on the Coronavirus has died of the virus. President Trump signed a $1.8 billion autism funding bill. New research that CRISPR-Edited immune cells survive for months and still kill cancer, making scientists optimistic that this gene-editing technology could eventually be used to help the human immune system to cure cancer. “Memory Cafes” in actual cafes, parks, libraries, and community buildings, are helping people with Dementia, as well as their caregivers. Experts say that Flavonoids, found in many foods, such as apples, have anti-inflammatory effects that can help with heart health, cancer risk, and brain health. A new study shows that shower curtains typically have the most germs in your bathroom, not the toilet. The FDA has approved the first drug for children’s peanut allergies. So, not only did I get the flu vaccine this year, but I got all of the other vaccines. A new study shows that there has been an increase in the number of high school and middle school students who vape and many more teens are vaping E-cigarettes than smoking regular cigarettes. 40% of Americans say they’re sleep-deprived after the Super Bowl. I bet there is a significant percentage who lied about not being sleep-deprived.

Animal News:

A tour guide off of Knysna, near Capetown, South Africa, filmed two orcas (killer whales) hunting and killing a large great white shark. Scientists believe that this is becoming more common and has led to a decrease in the number of sightings of great white sharks off Capetown. Killer whales eat the liver of the great white sharks. So, who’s top of the food chain now? Australia’s newest National Park has sea lions, 90 species of seabirds, and some of the clearest water on Earth. According to new research, penguins speak like people. A Chiefs player paid fees for all dog adoptions at Kansas City shelter to celebrate his Super Bowl win. Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of Winter on Groundhog Day. You may have seen that ad during the Super Bowl about the yellow Labrador that survived cancer to promote animal health. That ad cost $6 million and was purchased by the dog’s owner to thank the veterinarian. ‘Joe Exotic’ was sentenced to 22 years in plot to kill animal rights activist. The Transportation Department said it will start cracking down on pets as service animals. A mountain lion attacked a 3-year-old in a California park. A father choked a coyote to death after attacks in New Hampshire. Botswana is holding elephant hunting auctions. A ‘bat tornado’ invaded an Australian town.

Entertainment News:

Basketball legend and major philanthropist, Kobe Bryant, 41, died in a crash of his helicopter near Calabasas, CA, along with his 13-year-old daughter and 6 other passengers and pilot. Weather conditions were poor and foggy at the time of the crash. The devastating loss of one of the best basketball players of all time and a major figure in charity work was felt by many fans, many teammates, and many other celebrities. Lizza did a good job of singing “America The Beautiful”. Demi Lovato sang the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. She sang beautifully. Unfortunately, despite her being an excellent a cappella singer, someone decided that Lovato should have a marching band accompany her on the National Anthem. That part sounded awful and was probably very distracting for her. It was clear that the band, particularly the horns were not on the same key as her and it just sounded like bad noise behind her. I felt badly for her. Next up was the Halftime Show. I have two answers for the Halftime Show, as you no doubt have heard two strong opinions about it. There are many people, particularly parents of teenagers, who are very unhappy with the way Shakira and JLo performed scantily clad in risqué dance moves to their American and Latin hits, which included some kind of twerking by Shakira and a pole dance (perhaps a nod to her latest movie, HUSTLERS) and crotch-grabbing (sort of like Michael Jackson) by Jennifer Lopez. I understand that it was probably over-the-top and crossed a line for family-friendly football watching. As for the performances, Shakira, 43, did such a good job singing and dancing very intricate steps with a huge troupe, that I thought she was lip-synching. But, she wasn’t! JLo, who started as a dancer herself, was up to the challenge, despite being 50-years-old, and did a great job on her own songs and then together with Shakira. I thought it was odd that the committee chose these 2 artists to do the Halftime, but watching it, I saw that it was perfect for the mixed Latin and American cultures that are represented by the city of Miami. However, I do understand that it was probably not family-appropriate viewing for all ages, particularly in primetime.
Rush Limbaugh has announced that he is battling an aggressive form of lung cancer. One of the last icons of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Kirk Douglas, died Wednesday at the age of 103. Douglas’ life was “like a movie”. He came from abject poverty to become a film legend and renowned philanthropist. He is as well known for his epic roles in 90 films and TV shows, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, in the films ACE IN THE HOLE, THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, PATHS OF GLORY, THE VIKINGS, LONELY ARE THE BRAVE, and SPARTACUS, as he is for his famous actor son, Michael Douglas, and his daughter-in-law, Catherine Zeta-Jones. With the film SPARTACUS, which Douglas starred in, produced, and raised the whopping (at the time) $12 million for, Douglas gave a break to young director Stanley Kubrick and scriptwriter Dalton Trumbo, who at the time was on the Hollywood Communist blacklist. The films overwhelming success directly led to the end of the blacklist, something for which Douglas remained proud the rest of his life. Actor Gary Sinise, “Lieutenant Dan” of FORREST GUMP, was given the Patriot Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, for his passionate support of US military veterans. Warner Music’s new IPO filing has signaled a music industry revival. Manifest is losing me as a viewer, with its poor acting and shark-jumping plot twists. Brian Wilson is calling on fans to boycott the Beach Boys over a hunting event with Donald Trump Jr. Friends cast is in ‘final negotiations’ to appear in a one hour reunion special, in which they are interviewed by Ellen DeGeneres, that could earn them $2.25 million each! Jessica Simpson is promoting her new memoir book, “Open Book.” Ireland Baldwin has mended her relationship with father, Alec. Jennifer Aniston is teasing Matt Perry for finally joining Instagram. The Oscars are this Sunday.

This past weekend’s box-office was pretty weak, up against the Super Bowl. BAD BOYS FOR LIFE took No.1 spot with $17.7 million, in its 3rd week, for a total gross of $148 million. No.2 was 1917 (still want to see this), which made $9.5 million in its 6th week, for a total gross of $119.1 million. No.3 was DOLITTLE (I would also like to see), which made $7.6 million, for a total of $55.1 million in its 3rd week. No.4 was the debut of GRETEL & HANSEL, which made $6.1 million. No.5 was JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL, which made $6 million, in its 8th week, for a whopping total of $291.2 million!

Opening this Friday (today): BIRDS OF PREY, UNCUT GEMS, MALANG, JAANU, THE LODGE, THE MAN STANDING NEXT, ZAKHMI FAMILY MAN, AND THEN WE DANCED, 2/1, WAITING FOR ANYA, COME TO DADDY, DREAM ROUND, CANE RIVER, THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN, GOD OF GODS, and JIANG ZIYA.

Technology & Space News:

NASA astronaut Christina Koch returned to Earth after record-breaking mission. She spent nearly 11 months in space, the longest ever spaceflight by a woman. Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) announced it is no longer seeking a deal with eBay. eBay had never responded to their entreaties. iPhone manufacturer, Foxconn, has started making surgical masks to help with the coronavirus response.

US News:

President Trump gave his State of the Union address on Tuesday night and, for the first time since the 1700s, protocol was broken. The President, as is custom, handed a signed copy on special bond, enclosed in a leather folio, to the Speaker of the House, as the ‘We the People’s representative, to give to The People. Nancy Pelosi, instead, tore the speech in half, in front of the President. In effect, she destroyed public property. It was not the only bad news for the Democrats on Tuesday night, as their first primary, the Iowa Caucus, became a shambles, as the voting machines didn’t work properly and they were unable to tabulate the votes and declare a winner. On Thursday, officials ordered a recanvassing of the voters. Also on Thursday, President Trump was acquitted on both charges in the Impeachment process, as the Senate voted against it, along party lines (with the exception of Republican Mitt Romney). In less political news, during the State of the Union address ceremony, President Trump, honored the 100-year-old Tuskegee Airman, Charles, McGee, who had just presented the commemorative coin used for the coin toss at the Super Bowl on Sunday (honored along with 3 other WWII veterans who were 100-years-old at the Super Bowl), by promoting the Colonel to Brigadier General. The famed African American pilot, some of the first in history to fly in the US Air Force, flew more than 130 combat missions against the Nazis in WWII. When the armed forces were officially integrated, McGee served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Ironically, McGee, was born on 12/7, 24 years to the exact day of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Also honored at the State of the Union ceremony, was Rush Limbaugh, with a Medal of Freedom. Just as happened in 2015, a bizarre essay on Rape written by Bernie Sanders in 1972, has resurfaced and has captured the attention of the media and has been verified by Snopes.com. Tycoon Douglas Hodge was found guilty of bribing top US colleges with nearly $850,000, to get 4 of his 7 children into those schools, in the latest in the admissions scandal. The former investment firm CEO was sentenced to 9 months in prison. An El Paso, TX gunman has been hit with 90 Federal hate charges.

International News:

President Trump announced that US forces have killed another terror group leader, this time Qassim al-Raymi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in a counter-terrorism operation in Yemen. Russian FM is visiting Venezuela, bolstering Maduro. The reporter who exposed Chechen gay purge was attacked. Fire-struck Australia is now facing ‘dangerous’ downpours and flooding. Another airliner was “nearly hit” by Syria anti-aircraft fire. Russian media have hinted at US coronavirus conspiracy. Spanish police have shut down the cardboard gag, which is accused of shipping waste worth EU 10 million from Madrid to Asian countries. Global firms are pressuring China to re-open factories, closed because of the coronavirus.

Florida:

I may have to revive my Floriduh section…The Florida Highway Patrol arrested two men, after a routine traffic stop in Florida’s panhandle for speeding. The officers added additional charges when they found a variety of illegal drugs (Meth, GHB, cocaine, MDMA, and fentanyl) in a bag clearly labeled on the outside as “Bag Full of Drugs” on the backseat.

The snowbirds are firmly entrenched here in Florida again, and they are making travel and restaurant reservations tough. But, is a boon for Florida, which relies on tourism. As long as they don’t come sick, we are ecstatic to welcome them!

I am usually singing a National Anthem, singing in my 6-part harmony group Generation Gap, and/or doing an Elvis Presley gig, each week here in Palm Beach County, FL. I had many gigs in November and December. That has quieted down some, although now we may be getting into more private parties and weddings, and away from restaurants. If you were inclined to see much more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there were many acts which came to Florida this in 2019, and these are expected to come in 2020 (below). A public service announcement about the outdoor amphitheater in West Palm Beach (currently adjacent to the South Florida Fair), it has been very confusing with all the name changes, and it has happened again. It was originally called the Coral Sky Amphitheater, then was changed to the Cruzan Rum Amphitheater, then to Perfekt Vodka Amphitheater, then back to Coral Sky Amphitheater, and was changed again this week to iThink Financial Services Amphitheater. None of the names have been particularly catchy and all those changes occurred only in the last 11 years!

SOUTH FLORIDA 2020 SCHEDULE (next 2 months):

Celine Dion-Miami, January 17
Queensryche-Fort Lauderdale, January 17
Brian Wilson-Miami, January 17
Mary Wilson-Bonita Springs, January 19
Starship-West Palm Beach, January 22
Steve Martin & Martin Short-Hollywood, January 25
Guns N Roses-Miami, January 31
Jason Aldean,Riley Green,Morgan Wallen-Orlando, January 31
Maroon 5-Miami, February 1
Zac Brown Band-Sunrise, February 1
Styx-Port St. Lucie, February 1
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 11
Kool and the Gang & Village People-Key West, February 21
John Fogarty-Fort Lauderdale, February 22
Foreigner, Kansas, and Europe-West Palm Beach, September 6
 

Repo Commentary-01/17/20

IMG_5854IMG_5856IMG_5857IMG_5858IMG_5860IMG_5864IMG_5865IMG_5866IMG_5867IMG_5868IMG_5869IMG_5870IMG_5871IMG_5872IMG_5873IMG_5874IMG_5881IMG_5882IMG_5883IMG_5884IMG_5885IMG_5886IMG_5888IMG_5889IMG_5890IMG_5892IMG_5894IMG_5895IMG_5896IMG_5897IMG_5898IMG_5899IMG_5900IMG_5902IMG_5903IMG_5906IMG_5909IMG_5910IMG_5913

First, I hope you and your families had a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and a Happy New Year! I started this Repo Commentary almost 2 weeks ago, but keep getting interrupted from completing it.

I am still NOT retired. I will have news about that very very soon. Separately, I have been asked to moderate/speak on a panel at the upcoming IMN Securities Finance conference in Fort Lauderdale in February, so will likely see many of you there.

My Repo Commentary is posted free (it’s actually always been free) on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I’m trying to make it more frequent, but I’ve been swamped with the holidays and guests.

If you need to reach me, my mobile is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is currently jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures! Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time. As many of you know, it used to be a daily Repo Commentary back in the 80s and for a long time. But, then again, I used to be younger. I don’t know how I typed this by hand (still do) every single day (and didn’t get fired) and even re-wrote some 200 song lyrics to current market activity.

It was Elvis Presley’s 85th Birthday last week (01/08) and I didn’t get a chance to honor him in the Repo Commentary. As an Elvis Presley Tribute Artist since 1989, I am honored to and have had the pleasure of performing as Elvis Aaron Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll”. In his short, 42-year life, Elvis changed music forever, bringing together many genres of music (gospel, blues, R&B, country, jazz, folk) and created his own genre. He recorded 711 songs, a record 115 in Billboard’s Top 40, a record 152 in Billboard’s Top 100, a record 38 Top 10 hits (tying him with Madonna), and 18 No.1 hits (2 behind The Beatles, and tied for second with Mariah Carey. Elvis spent a record 80 weeks at No.1 on the charts, had the most (129) albums charting on Billboard’s Top 200 (well ahead of No.2 Frank Sinatra with 82), the most (117) Gold record albums (well ahead of No.2 Barbra Streisand with 51), the most (67) Platinum albums, the most (27) Multi-Platinum albums, the most (54) Gold singles, and the 4th-most (27) Platinum singles (behind Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Chris Brown). He also had a record 77 jumpsuits, many of which he wore at some of his 1,684 concerts, which were all sold out!

Holidays or Events (01/16):

¥ National Religious Freedom Day (United States)
¥ Teacher’s Day in Myanmar
¥ Teacher’s Day in Thailand
¥ Appreciate a Dragon Day
¥ Book Publishers Day
¥ International Hot and Spicy Food Day (I think I celebrated that a day early, ugh)
¥ Get to Know Your Customers Day
¥ National Good Teen Day
¥ National Fig Newton Day
¥ National Nothing Day
¥ National Without a Scalpel Day
¥ Prohibition Remembrance Day (it would have turned 100-years-old today)
¥ Psychiatric Technician’s Day
¥ Monday will be Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States, and many markets and government offices will be closed.

Some Famous People Born on 01/16 in History:

¥ 1853-Andre Michelin, French businessman and co-founder of the Michelin Tyre Company.
¥ 1900-Edith Frank, German-Dutch mother of Anne Frank.
¥ 1908-Ethel Merman, American actress and singer.
¥ 1910-Dizzy Dean, American baseball player.
¥ 1932-Dian Fossey, American zoologist and anthropologist
¥ 1933-Susan Sontag, American novelist.
¥ 1935-A.J. Foyt, American race car driver.
¥ 1943-Ronnie Milsap, American singer and pianist.
¥ 1948-John Carpenter, American director, producer, screenwriter, and composer
¥ 1950-Debbie Allen, American actress, dancer, and choreographer
¥ 1959-Sade, Nigerian-English singer-songwriter and producer.
¥ 1969-Roy Jones Jr., American boxer
¥ 1974-Kate Moss, English model and fashion designer
¥ 1980-Albert Pujols, Dominican-American baseball player.
¥ 1985-Joe Flacco, American football player.
¥ 1988-Mark Trumbo, American baseball player

I don’t remember these Repo Commentaries taking 2-3 days to type up, but I guess I wasn’t getting as interrupted all those years. Anyway, today, which is actually 1/17, actress Betty White turns 98 years old!

This Day in History (01/16):

In the interest of not holding up this Repo Commentary any further (and having all the news go stale), I’ll suspend this section until the next Repo Commentary.

Daily Weird Facts:

Many of Denny’s restaurants were built without locks, which was problematic when they decided to close down for Christmas.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5
$47.66/barrel on 12/23
$48.63 on 01/07
$52.31/barrel on 01/16
$55.26/barrel on 2/3
$55.41/barrel on 2/26
$73.77/barrel on 4/29
$63.28/barrel on 5/17
$54.07/barrel on 6/18
$55.96/barrel on 7/24
$58.31/barrel on 9/10
$53.50/barrel on 10/2
$59.10/barrel on 12/8
$58.81/barrel on 1/17

The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station just jumped in the past week by 12 cents, to $2.39/gallon. Most of the other stations in the area are 20-60 cents more per gallon.

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all Repo Commentary dates):

112.20 on 12/24
108.60 on 01/07
109.07 on 01/16
103.18 on 02/03
104.86 on 2/25
103.86 on 5/17
102.59 on 6/18
102.43 on 7/24
101.72 on 9/10
102.16 on 10/02
102.96 on 12/06
104.30 on 01/17

One Euro was trading on:

12/24 at $1.1426
01/07 at $1.1478
01/16 at $1.1396
02/03 at $1.2047
02/25 at $1.1955
05/17 at $1.1761
06/18 at $1.1825
07/24 at $1.1740
09/10 at $1.1623
10/02 at $1.1504
12/06 at $1.1688
01/17 at $1.1721

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24 at $1.2655
01/07 at $1.2770
01/16 at $1.2880
02/03 at $1.3758
02/25 at $1.3728
05/17 at $1.3427
06/18 at $1.3157
07/24 at $1.3070
09/10 at $1.2959
10/02 at $1.2882
12/06 at $1.3819
01/17 at $1.3753

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24
1.3297 on 01/07
1.3255 on 01/16
1.2492 on 2/03
1.2492 on 2/25
1.2800 on 5/17
1.2740 on 6/18
1.2480 on 7/24
1.2520 on 9/10
1.2560 on 10/02
1.2530 on 12/06
1.2390 on 01/17

Gold closed on 9/09 at $1504.90/ounce. On 10/02, it closed at $1498.70/ounce. On 12/6, it closed at $1,464.40. Today, it closed at $1557.30/ounce.

Bitcoin was trading at (Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25
$6,350 on 10/5
$3,774.97 on 12/24/18
$3,7774.97 on 01/07
$3,598.90 on 01/16
$3,421.10 on 02/06
$3,826.44 on 02/26
$8,100.00 on 05/16
$7,215.79 on 05/17
$9,088.59 on 06/18
$11,919.30 on 06/25
$9,790.37 on 07/24
$10,183.90 on 09/10
$8,235.46 on 10/02
$7,470.41 on 12/06
$8,876.87 on 01/17/20

After rebounding dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer, rallied during the Summer, and recently has tumbled again in the past three months.

Global Financial News:

The US has threatened to cut off Iraq from crucial bank account with the Federal Reserve. Regulators in Europe are reminding us that Shadow Banking is still growing and remains opaque, which are risks for the global economy. Fed’s Quarles is calling for transparency, accountability and fairness in bank supervision. The top six US banks, some of which posted record profits earlier this week, have benefited from a $32 billion boost from tax cuts signed into law in 2017 by President Trump. Those banks paid an average effective tax rate of 18% in 2019, according to Bloomberg. Because of these bank profits, JPMorgan’s CEO’s campaign of anti-regulation remarks that regulations are too onerous, are meeting skepticism now, according to FT. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is changing the “lockup” procedure for economic data to keep the information secure from algorithmic traders before its public release, including removing computers which can provide machine-readable news in the Washington newsroom on March 1st. This change follows a 2014 recommendation from the Labor Department inspector general. Wait, it took six years to implement? Morgan Stanley Q4 profit was $2.2 billion, beating analysts’ expectations and helping it achieve record annual revenue of $41.4 billion. Not all banks reported record profits, as BNY Mellon’s profit was hampered by low rates. IPO talks continue to swirl around Ant and show a value of $200 billion. Pay-later company Sezzle has been given approval by California for a direct-to-consumer lending license, allowing it to make small, interest-free installment loans, per Reuters. Bank of America says it intends to double its number of high-net-worth advisers in 2020, or 600, and markets to 40. Last year, BOA grew assets under management to a record $288 billion, per Reuters. Democratic members of the House Financial Services Committee have asked the GAO for information on how alternative data such as utility bills is used to make credit decision and whether any of such practices might conflict with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Fair Housing Act. The FDIC and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are encouraging banks to be vigilant regarding their cybersecurity controls, saying there is now a heightened risk of an attack. They won’t say if there is a specific threat. However, other agencies have warned that Iran might go after US financial institutions. Schwab assets have climbed past $4 trillion on zero-commission trades, and I don’t think that includes their recent acquisition of TD Ameritrade. After the signing of “phase one” of the new trade deal with China, US financial firms now have access to Chinese markets, which should be a huge reward for both sides. China will scrap foreign equity limits in the securities, fund management, futures and insurance sectors and open up its payment system to US firms. The US firms should seen increases in business and profits, while it should also be beneficial to the Chinese economy by further modernizing their capital-markets system and banking system. Chinese economic growth hit its lowest level in 29 years, at 6.1% in 2019. Jackson will step down from the SEC. The World Economic Forum convenes next week again in Davos, Switzerland, and political leaders intend to discuss climate change, foreign policy, and trade. The UK Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England have announced a series of deadlines for the LIBOR phaseout. The first deadline is 3/2/20, when there will be a shift to the Sterling Overnight Index Average. ECB says it will monitor Eurozone stimulus measures. BOE’s Carney said he will advise PM Boris Johnson on climate change. BlackRock’s new Green ETF (iShares ESG MSCI USA), which focuses on environmental, social and governance criteria, received $1.15 billion on Wednesday, a record one-day inflow. The US Senate voted 89-10 in support of the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which replaces the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

SIFMA has recommended a Fixed Income market close for Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

US Market News:

The data shows that CPI rose in 2019 at the fastest pace in 8 years, yet inflation is still low. In the past 10 years, the US job market has not had a single month with a decline in the overall number of jobs. Remarkably, more than 22 million jobs have been created since the lower point for employment during the last downturn. The US retail sector posted steady holiday sales, as US consumer spending continued to increase, even through the end of the holiday shopping season. In regards to stocks, the price-earning to growth ratio, which gauges whether a stock is properly valued, is at the highest reading since Bank of America tracking began in 1986. Any reading above 1 for a stock indicates overvaluation, and the ratio is at an average of 1.8, as reported by CNBC.

The Dow Jones (global stocks as well), along with other stock indices, were up this morning, after yesterday’s record highs, eclipsing the records set in July 2019.

The Dow Jones closed at (Repo Commentary Dates):

26,656.77 on 9/20/18
26,447.05 on 10/5/18
21,792.20 on 12/23/18
21,712.53 on 12/26/18
24,207.16 on 01/16/19
25,063.89 on 2/06/19
26,106.47 on 2/25/19
25,862.68 on 5/16/19
26,465.54 on 6/18/19
27,269.97 on 7/24/19
26,793.09 on 9/10/19
26,229.31 on 10/02/19
28,015.06 on 12/06/19
29,348.10 on 01/17/20

S&P 500 has had a long upward climb with very little volatility. It has risen 27% during the past 12 months. It has risen or fallen less than 1% since mid-October, showing one of the longest periods of low volatility. It has closed on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58
12/26/18 at 2,467.70
01/07/19 at 2,549.69
01/16/19 at 2,616.10
02/06/19 at 2,706.53
02/25/19 at 2,799.34
05/16/19 at 2,876.32
06/18/19 at 2,917.75
07/24/19 at 3,019.56 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 2,969.04
10/02/19 at 2,906.94 down 33.31
12/06/19 at 3,145.91
01/17/20 at 3,329.62

Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28/18 high of 8,030.04, closing on:

10/5/18 at 7,788.45
12/26/18 at 6,554.36
01/07/19 at 6,823.47
01/16/19 at 7,034.70
02/06/19 at 7,263.87
02/25/19 at 7,561.87
05/16/19 at 7,898.05
06/18/19 at 7,953.68
07/24/19 at 8,321.50 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 8,043.58
10/02/19 at 7,809.22
12/06/19 at 8,656.07
01/17/20 at 9,388.95

US Treasury yields have been in free-fall since hitting highs in October 2018. The US Treasury announced that it will start selling a 20year bond during the first half of 2020, in an attempt to help with the budget deficit.

2 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.88%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.53%
01/16/19 at 2.55%
02/06/19 at 2.52%
02/22/19 at 2.48%
05/16/19 at 2.20%
06/18/19 at 1.86%
07/24/19 at 1.83%
09/09/19 at 1.58%
10/01/19 at 1.56%
12/06/19 at 1.61%
01/17/20 at 1.58%

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%
12/18/18 at 2.64%
01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)
01/16/19 at 2.53%
02/06/19 at 2.50%
02/22/19 at 2.46%
05/16/19 at 2.15%
06/18/19 at 1.80%
07/24/19 at 1.79%
09/09/19 at 1.52%
10/01/19 at 1.51%
12/06/19 at 1.64%
01/17/20 at 1.58%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.49%
01/16/19 at 2.54%
02/06/19 at 2.51%
02/22/19 at 2.47%
05/16/19 at 2.18%
06/18/19 at 1.83%
07/24/19 at 1.82%
09/09/19 at 1.49%
10/01/19 at 1.51%
12/06/19 at 1.67%
01/17/20 at 1.63%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%
12/18/18 at 2.74%
01/07/19 at 2.60%
01/16/19 at 2.62%
02/06/19 at 2.59%
02/22/19 at 2.55%
05/16/19 at 2.28%
06/18/19 at 1.93%
07/24/19 at 1.93%
09/09/19 at 1.57%
10/01/19 at 1.59%
12/06/19 at 1.78%
01/17/20 at 1.74%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%
12/18/18 at 2.82%
01/07/19 at 2.70%
01/16/19 at 2.73%
02/06/19 at 2.70%
02/22/19 at 2.65%
05/16/19 at 2.40%
06/18/19 at 2.06%
07/24/19 at 2.05%
09/09/19 at 1.83%
10/01/19 at 1.65% dramatic drop in one month!
12/06/19 at 1.84% dramatic rise in two months!
01/17/20 at 1.84%

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%
12/18/18 at 3.07%
01/07/19 at 2.99%
01/16/19 at 3.07%
02/06/19 at 3.03%
02/22/19 at 3.02%
05/16/19 at 2.84%
06/18/19 at 2.55%
07/24/19 at 2.58%
09/10/19 at 2.11%
10/01/19 at 2.11%
12/06/19 at 2.29%
01/17/20 at 2.29%

US Treasury yields have stayed constant over the last month, despite the Fed’s continued intervention in the target rate..

Housing News:

Jumbo mortgages are still haunting the housing market. Fed Governor Bowman spoke yesterday on the Outlook for the Housing market to a gathering of home builders. She pointed out that the overall US economy is currently in a good place and that the FOMC sees moderate growth in GDP over the next few years, with unemployment at the lowest it has been in 50 years, and a muted inflation rate, likely not to exceed the FOMC’s 2% objective. After the Housing Crisis of more than a decade ago, both new and existing home sales did not increase again until 2012, and they have remained at modest levels since then. In the past few years, the Fed sees some encouraging signs that the strength of the economy is easing these housing market headwinds. She believes that the higher rate of household ‘formation’ will eventually result in higher demand for housing and encourage further increases in homebuilding. Lately, the inventories of both new and existing homes for sale have drifted back to relatively low levels and both new and existing home sales have moved up strongly in the second half of 2019. She pointed out two challenges for the housing sector. One was that homebuilders are having difficulty finding and retaining qualified skilled workers. The second is the declining presence of community banks in the consumer real estate mortgage market, partly due to regulatory burdens. The housing market is not a rosy picture everywhere thought. In Boston, housing costs are a problem and rent control has not been the answer, and in fact has been leading to a reduced supply of housing. Okay, how about some exciting news about concrete? I know, seems counter-intuitive. However, researchers say they’ve created a “living” concrete that can grow and potentially heal itself. The material combines cyanobacteria, sand and a gelatin hydrogel. The material could eventually help build future structures on Mars.

Repo News:

The Federal Reserve has continued pumping billions of dollars into the Repo market to keep the short-end liquid, especially through the year-end volatility. They have not only been doing overnight repo operations, but also have an aggressive schedule for term repo operations. These have not only pushed GC repo rates lower, but also have narrowed the spread between GC repo and Fed Funds, below the recent norm of 13-15bp.

Well, “repo” is the lubricant of the money market system, particularly the issuance of US Treasuries and other bonds, and it only comes up in conversation among non-participants when the gears start squeaking or fail to function, like yelling for WD 40. And, the last time the general public heard about “repo” it was during the Financial Crisis.

I know you’ve seen many articles on the subject of current repo market illiquidity and volatility, I’ve read them too. I think I can summarize them all and add my now 37 years of experience in the Securities Finance market to lay out the causes and possible solutions.

To look at the WHY, one need look at what has happened since the Financial Crisis.

¥ The regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve, instituted emergency liquidity programs for different sectors of the money market (CP, Corporate Bonds, Broker/Dealers, GSEs, etc.). They eventually unwound those many programs.
¥ They opened up for a brief time the Discount Window to more participants and without the previous stigma attached, for collateral providers to access cash.
¥ They put FNMA and FHLMC into conservatorship.
¥ They began easing Monetary Policy massively for years.
¥ They began Quantitative Easing and built up the Fed’s balance sheet to $4.5 trillion. They added to it by buying more securities every month from the paydowns on their MBS portfolio.
¥ They propped up some broker/dealers, allowed some to fail, and helped others to consolidate/merge.
¥ The Repo Market shrunk in the US from about $7 trillion to $3 trillion, before recent increase to about $3.6 trillion.
¥ Regulators instituted mountains of new reforms, especially the 310 new rules of Dodd-Frank, globally to decrease the likelihood of systemic risk in the financial system and to force, particularly the broker/dealers and GSIB banks to hold more capital/reserves for liquidity.
¥ The market began looking for alternatives to financing through broker/dealers via CCPs, peer-to-peer financing, Sponsored Repo, and electronic trading platforms.
¥ The Fed began its much hailed RRP program, which added over 300 cash providers from the Repo market to finance the Fed’s balance sheet and provide ‘liquidity’ for those cash providers.
¥ The Fed stopped QE and began reducing their balance sheet down to $2.5 trillion.
¥ The US Treasury began ramping up issuance to the tune of about $1 trillion more, which is funneled through the 24 primary broker/dealers and the central banks.
¥ The Fed began tightening monetary policy and tinkering with new measures of repo rates and LIBOR replacement. They also began tinkering with the Interest on Excess Reserves (IOER) from banks and credit unions, to try to create higher reserves.
¥ The Fed did an about face and began easing monetary policy. They also lowered IOER.
That’s not everything that happened, but that gives you the broad strokes. And just in those bullet points, I see many of the contributing factors of the recent dislocation of the repo market. And, by the way, that actually refutes Mr. Memani’s later comment that “Nothing much has happened in the money markets since financial crisis. A lot more happened in those 11 years than happened in the 26 years that I was in the money markets.

I believe the reasons we had dislocations last quarter come down to a major imbalance of bank reserves, behavior not consistent with expectation, illiquidity in the repo market (rather than the highly touted increase in liquidity), concentration risk, a corporate tax date that removed cash from the repo market, humongous new supply of US treasuries being issued, many Repo market participants out of the Federal Reserve direct loop, and a mountain of hundreds of new regulations that broker/dealers (and others) are trying to still absorb and position reserves/capital, personnel, and trading strategies for. As you can see, there are a lot of balls in the air!

I’m not sure why participants and regulators didn’t foresee an imbalance (lack of) bank reserves. The piles of new regulations that regulators gave to the money markets fundamentally required banks to hold more reserves versus balance sheets (which repo is the major contributor to), the low yields may have encouraged banks to use reserves elsewhere in more profitable areas than repo (they are profit-motivated, as they should be), and the Fed lowered the IOER which may have disincented banks from depositing reserves at the Fed. The decrease in the Fed’s balance sheet came at the cost of the market absorbing those securities. The US Treasury issuing phenomenal amounts of securities that have to be taken by the 24 primary dealers (already full up on balance sheets they are trying to reduce) and the central banks/swfs (who already have $14 trillion of US Treasuries, should have been know as a potential clog in the system. Plus, with the Fed lowering rates, the returns on those US Treasuries would be lower for those new owners. And the central banks ownership of US Treasuries is another complicated story, one of ripple effects. They can’t really sell US Treasuries into this market, without having some issue with the US Government, whichever branch. But, yet, many of them need to support their currency, particularly against the US Dollar. So, some of them enter the Repo market to repo the US Treasuries to receive US Dollars to then buy their own currencies with, propping up their currency by kicking the can somewhat down the road, until their GDP rises or oil prices rise (raising their specific GDP). Layer over that macroeconomic soup a topping of trade wars and tariffs, it becomes rather complex to predict. And, that brings me to my last observation, that unintended consequences arose from the hundreds of regulations foisted on the money market, mainly because market behavior is not that predictive. Regulators thought that if they made the system safer, more investors would come in, but yet the repo market didn’t grow that much, but yet supply from the Fed and from the US Treasury increased dramatically. Regulators thought that if the banks had more reserves and capital, they would pass that on to the buyside, but that didn’t take into account their profit motivations and individual bank idiosyncricies. Lastly, the regulators didn’t expect the perfect storm of added supply, taxes withdrawn, cash out of the system, reserves lower, and tools that would work directly only on the 24 primary dealers and the 300 cash providers in RRP. I’ve been remarking for years, since the RRP, that there was not a comparable program for collateral providers/leveraged players in the Repo market. Steve Malekian went further to say, a year ago, that the newly touted liquidity of the Repo market was “only for Platinum accounts.” It was only for select buyside clients.

So, the Fed needs to do something. And, I don’t mean just the Overnight operations with the 24 primary dealers. I can’t even predict what those dealers’ positions are or how the added liquidity would flow to the buyside clients. The extra cash could be used to fund their Swaps desk, the Repo Desk, other outright traders, Platinum accounts, or speculatively with leveraged accounts (as a few savvy broker/dealers have seen that opportunity and gone short to reverse in at higher rates from leveraged accounts and supply balance sheet). The point is that the mound of regulations and the open market operations and the tinkering with the IOER are supposed to impact banks and broker/dealers in such a way to induce certain behavior, but behavior is unique. So, the Fed needs to go back to its ample toolkit (and get people who have been there at least 10 years) to:
¥ Implement more term RPs, to give the market some faith and reduce Fed reputational risk
¥ Purchase securities, either US Treasuries or Agency MBS, increasing the Fed balance sheet (although this may be difficult because there were probably several good reasons why they decreased it.)
¥ Open the Discount Window to more participants, with NO stigma attached (it used to be how one in the market knew who was having a liquidity crisis), and other sectors represented.
¥ Create a collateral provider facility, similar to RRP, or help reduce the hurdles, like CCLF for CCPs and Sponsored Repo type ventures to increase liquidity.
¥ Tinker the IOER rate UP, rather than down, to increase the Reserves at the Fed.
¥ Support/encourage Repo done outside of the 24 primary dealers, helping collateral providers find cash providers, when certain broker/dealers are balance sheet full and capital restrained from the very regulations that the Fed was involved in. I hope that didn’t come out too angry. I think systemic risk reduction is a huge priority and I am worried about firesale risk (although I don’t think moving the sale down the road to 7 days or 30 days changes firesale risk, it just changes the date of the firesale).
¥ Have the Fed be a permanent backstop to the Repo market.
The bottom line is that the money markets, particularly the securities finance market (Repo & Securities Lending) is still trying to find its footing, particularly as the Repo market has shrunk, while Treasury supply has increased.

I still see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for ALL collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers, which has been volatile but certainly widened since the Financial Crisis, and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis, which not only subjected clients to dealer defaults and wider spreads, but in many cases directly impacted clients by making them suddenly the outright traders of repo collateral. Some of that collateral, on top of it, was very illiquid. Not knowing who the other clients were on the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book, and who could potentially bring down those intermediary dealers was costly for many clients. Clearly, with that pipeline of is intermediation becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets (which has recovered partially with new entrants to the market and international banks’ increases due to regulatory arbitrage) being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be explored for cash provider and collateral provider clients. My former baby, AVM’s Direct Repo™, was the first of one of such pathways, over 10 years ago. Since then, many other liquidity pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agented repo through seclending agents and some prime brokers to buyside clients, direct lending from beneficial owners to hedge funds who are short via their agents, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations of their custodial clients, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like (BNY DBVX, State Street’s Cash Cross), FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products for certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, dealer to dealer and some clients electronic trading platforms (like GLMX, HQLA, and Tradeweb), other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (particularly in Europe, like Eurex, LCH, OCC, CME, etc.), total return swaps platforms (like WeMatch.com), and collateralized loan exchanges like AFX/CBOE. There have still been other firms that have created some king of product that mimics a repo, but yet doesn’t show up on dealers’ balance sheets (so helps them), and/or provides better credit counterparties (so helps clients), and can take many forms. I believe this overall evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used in some part, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers. Some of that balance sheet has returned, as I mentioned above, but maybe for only select ‘platinum’ clients and may come at a higher bid/offer spread or in specific, more profitable products/securities, as other market observers/experts have said. The US tariffs on China have strangely had little effect on Import Prices.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:
 

• Deutsche Borse/Clearstream/Securities Lending Times held their annual GFF Summit in Luxembourg, 1/28-1/30/20, which I attended two years ago.
• IMN 26th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance conference will be held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/12-2/13/20. I was the Chairperson in 2019 and will be a moderator/speaker this year. I hope to see many of you there!
• iMoneyNet/Informa has yet to announce its annual MMExpo, after the merger. I have spoken at this one several times.
• PASLA/RMA will hold its 17th annual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Tokyo, Japan on 3/3-3/5/20.
• GIOA will hold its 16th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/18-3/20/20. I have spoken (and sung) at this one. I may attend.
• Crane Data will hold its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Boston, MA on 3/23-3/24/20.
• IHS Markit will hold its annual Securities Finance Forum in London, England on 3/24/20.
• Finadium will hold its 4th annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/13-5/14/20. I’ve spoken and sponsored this one.
• GFOA will hold its gigantic 114th (wow!) annual conference in Los Angeles on 5/17-5/20/20. I have attended this one in the past.
• IMN/AFME will hold its annual Global Bank ABS (West) conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/16-6/18/20.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Nashville, TN on 6/8-6/10/20.
• ISLA will hold its 29th Annual Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Vienna, Austria on 6/23-6/25/20. I have spoken (and sung) at this one before.
• Crane Data will hold its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26/20 in Minneapolis, MN. I heard there were 580 attendees in Boston last year. I have spoken at this conference before.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in San Diego, CA on 9/13-9/16/20. I’ve spoken and sung at this one.
• IMN will hold its annual European Securities Finance conference in London, England on 9/15-9/16/20. I’ve attended this before.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/22-9/24/20.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 10/5-10/7/20. I’ve attended this before and might again.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders 2020 conference in Barcelona, Spain on 10/12-10/14/20.
• RMA will hold its 38th annual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Amelia Island, FL on October 12-15. I saw many of you last year in Boca Raton. It was my 37th RMA I’ve attended.
• Crane Data has yet to announce its annual European Money Fund Symposium.
• Finadium has yet to announce its 4th annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe.
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its large annual conference in Las Vegas, NV on 10/18-10/21/20.
• Finadium has yet to announce its Rates & Repo conference in New York. I’ve spoken and sponsored this one.
• Risk.net has yet to announce its 26th annual Risk USA conference. I’ve chaired this one.
• SIFMA has yet to announce its annual Meeting.

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 1.50-1.75% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while), after the FOMC lowered it on 7/31/19 and again on 9/18/19 and again on 12/4/19. The Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR), as reported by the Federal Reserve, was 1.88% on 10/1/19.

For you youngsters, particularly the ones freaking out about the Fed doing daily RP operations, the Federal Reserve used to not telegraph what it was doing in monetary policy. It would simply come in (and not on scheduled dates like FOMC meetings) and add or drain reserves by announcing a Customer RP, System RP, or Matched Sales. We would then all scramble, as the market absorbed the news, and try to figure out how much they did and where the Fed Funds rate would settle.

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. That rate on 10/1/19 was 1.85%.

The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is supposed to be a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities. It is also reported by the NY Fed on its website. It has been controversial and has been considered as a possible replacement for LIBOR. SOFR includes trades in the Broad General Collateral Rate of Repo plus bilateral Treasury Repo transactions cleared through the DVP services at CCP FICC, ostensibly filtering out issues trading Special. However, critics (and I am one) say that it only picks up the Offered Side of Repo (not a median), that it only picks up the small amount of DVP transactions cleared at FICC and Triparty Repo done at Bank of NY, ignoring the growing amount of bilateral (non-Triparty) repo being done peer-to-peer, dealer-to-dealer, and client-to-dealer, outside of FICC. It is a good representation of where Money Funds (except for a few savvy ones who trade peer-to-peer) are paid on their cash versus US Treasuries in Repo each day by broker/dealers. It almost completely ignores other sectors, particularly buyside clients with collateral. That all being said, the current SOFR reported by the Fed for 10/1/19 was 1.88%.

The next FOMC meetings (and they are all two-day meetings so these are the second day, when they actually announce) are: 1/29/20, 3/18/20, 4/29/20, 6/10/20, 7/29/20, 9/16/20, 11/5/20, and 12/16/20.

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15/19, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market. So, if RRP is not extinct, it is certainly now dormant, occasionally coming out of hibernation for year-ends and quarter-ends, when liquidity becomes very strange.

In December 2018, at the FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%
12/13/18 to 2.50%

But, then the Federal Reserve paused. Suddenly, on 7/31/19, the Fed eased the Fed Funds target rate to 2.25%, and then did another rate cut by 0.25% to 2.00% on 9/17/19. Technically, that rate is the top end of a 25bp rate spread that the Fed considers its current target rate (1.75%-2.00%). The reversal in monetary policy is expected to continue, with perhaps one more rate cut by the Fed in 2019. The FOMC actually held an unscheduled meeting on 10/4/19, but did not change monetary policy at that meeting. But, on 12/11/19, the Fed, somewhat expectedly, lowered the Fed Funds target range to 1.50-1.75%, down another 25bp.

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For reference, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007, at or near the beginning of the Financial Crisis.

Some experts feel that the Federal Reserve is stuck in quantitative-easing hell, again. Fed’s Kaplan worries that investors put on more risk, after recent interest rate policy cut. Fed’s George says that 2019’s interest rate cuts may need to be reversed. President Trump plans to nominate Shelton and Waller to the Federal Reserve. Fed officials believe that the US economy will avoid a recession, beause of last year’s rate cuts by the Fed. Fed’s Clarida says while the economy is in a good place, he thinks inflation could rise to 2%. Bernanke says that the Fed has the right tools to fight the next recession. While Yellen says that regulators need new powers and more tools to stave off potential asset bubbles.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

The major 6.4 earthquake (and subsequent aftershocks) last week in Puerto Rico, which knocked out power again on the island again, was a very rare occurrence, something that happens in 75-450 years.

1/17 5.9 Ascension Island Region
1/16 5.5 Off Kamchatka, Russia
1/16 5.6 North of Ascension Island
1/15 5.6 Timor Region, Indonesia
1/12 5.6 Bouvet Island Region
1/10 5.5 New Zealand
1/9 6.0 Eastern Siberia
1/7 5.6 Tallaboa, Puerto Rico
1/7 5.8 New Britain Region, Papua New Guinea
1/7 5.5 Puerto Rico Region
1/7 6.3 Puerto Rico Region
1/7 5.5 North of Svalbard, Greenland
1/6 5.8 Indios, Puerto Rico
1/6 5.6 North of Ascension Island
1/6 5.6 Oaxaca, Mexico

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st and ends November 30th. For the 2019 storm season, CSU, which has been the most used, forecast a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. It turned out to be the 4th year in a row of above-average damaging seasons. We had 18 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. It became the 7th year that there were multiple Category-5 hurricanes in one season.

The Pacific Hurricane Season starts 5/1/20 and ends 11/1/20.

As for the weather, Florida finally has moderate temperatures after an entire December of record rain and high winds. That followed a Summer of record heat. We are in the 70s and going down to 50s at night. The rest of the country has seen unusually warm temperatures followed by bouts of snow, and the whole country was recently impacted by a 2,000-mile-long storm. Another sprawling Winter storm will bring hazardous travel from the Plain states to the Northeast this weekend. Snow could get heavy over much of the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and the Northeast. Freezing rain is expected from the southern Plains into the Mid-Atlantic region.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season began 3/28 last year and ended on 9/30 (more than 6 months). The World Series went 7 games, and the Washington Nationals, who were in the Postseason for the first time, beat the Houston Astros, who won the World Series in 2017, 4 games to 3 games. The cool thing, from my perspective, is that they share the same brand new Spring Training facility right here in West Palm Beach, FL, and I sing the National Anthem for both teams several times during Spring Training.

Speaking of Spring Training, catchers and pitchers don’t even report until February and games don’t start until March. But, the face of baseball has forever changed this week. MLB, which had been investigating allegations of cheating by the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros and 2018 World Series champion Boston Red Sox, came down with harsh punishments for the Astros: a fine of $5mm, loss of their next first round and second round draft picks, and suspension for one year of their manager and their GM. The Astros immediately fired both men, after the announcement. That will have a huge impact on the team that came in 2nd place in 2019. The common denominator between the 2017 Astros and 2018 Red Sox was then Astros’ bench coach and now Red Sox manager, Alex Cora. He was allegedly instrumental in the method of cheating using technology to steal signs from other teams, and brought that method and lack of respect for the game of baseball with him to the Red Sox in 2018. Red Sox management obviously feels so too, as they just fired him, even before he is disciplined by MLB. There are many analysts who think he should get a lifetime ban, like Pete Rose received for probably a lesser offense. MLB is definitely showing that it means business and will not tolerate this type of cheating, with huge consequences if any team does. It is having more ripple effects too, as today (Thursday), Carlos Beltran, a former Astros’ player in 2017, and new coach of the Mets, resigned even before his first season as coach. He was the only player who was named as allegedly participating in the cheating while with the Astros. I was about to tell you all the new MLB managers for this season, and then suddenly 2 get fired and one quits. Hard to replace a manager (and a GM) right before Spring Training. There is a rumor that the Red Sox may pick their former catcher and captain, Jason Varitek, to manage. Another crowd favorite would be Dustin Pedroia, but he still wants to play again. By the way, at the end of the season, the Red Sox also fired their President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, because of their poor 2019 season. Chaim Bloom replaced him and now has to hire a manager. The Astros have interviewed Buck Showalter for the manager job. The Twins have landed 3B Josh Donaldson from the Braves for 4years/$92 million. The Pirates’ new manager is Derek Shelton. The Giants’ new manager is Gabe Kapler.

The Hall of Fame Committee will decide the 2020 class of inductees next Tuesday. It’s almost guaranteed that Derek Jeter will be inducted on his first year of eligibility. Is it finally going to be time for Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds? Probably not yet. Now, the 2020 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot features 32 candidates. Results from this vote will be announced on 1/21/20.

The Modern Baseball Era ballot featured 10 candidates for consideration:

Dwight Evans (one of my favorites)
Steve Garvey
Tommy John
Don Mattingly (another favorite of mine)
Marvin Miller
Thurman Munson (beloved)
Dale Murphy
Dave Parker
Ted Simmons
Lou Whitaker
Matt Kelly

“Modern Baseball” is one of four rotating eras considered by the Hall of Fame’s Veteran Committee, not the writers. It evaluates candidates whose primary contributions to baseball came between 1970-87. The list was compiled by 11 veteran baseball historians. A 16-member group of veterans decided in December. You needed 75% of the vote to get in. They gave enough votes for Marvin Miller and Ted Simmons, so they will be inducted in July 2020.

Now, the 2020 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot features 32 candidates. Results from this vote will be announced on 1/21/20.

Golf:

The 2019-2020 wraparound PGA Tour season began in Australia, then moved to Hawaii. Now, it has moved to the California desert. Today, the American Express tournament started in La Quinta, CA on the Stadium Course. Course designer Pete Dye has died at age 94. The PGA Tour announced significant enhancements to pace-of-play policy. I’m still trying to get used to the revolutionary change of letting players leave the pin in on putts on the green. Phil Mickelson says that he will eventually play on PGA Tour Champions tour. He better not take my spot. On the Korn Ferry Tour (I think this is another developmental tour, like the Web.com Tour), Tommy Gainey won the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay. He has had 200 career starts on the PGA Tour, but lost his Tour card in 2014. Of greater note, Gainey was one of 124 people arrested in a 6-day undercover sting in early December targeting prostitution, human trafficking and child predators in central Florida. Human trafficking is an issue that I have become very involved in this past year, helping in fund-raising events for anti-human trafficking groups, like Movies Making A Difference.

The European Tour unveiled its schedule for 2020 season:

¥ 11/28-12/1/19 Hong Kong Open
¥ 11/28-12/1/19 Alfred Dunhill Championship
¥ 12/5-12/8/19 Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open
¥ 12/19-12/22/19 Australian PGA Championship
¥ 1/9-1/12/20 South African Open
¥ 1/16-1/19 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
¥ 1/23-1/26 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
¥ 1/30-2/2 Saudi International
¥ 2/6-2/9 ISPS Handa Vic Open
¥ 2/20-2/23 WGC-Mexico Championship
¥ 2/27-3/1 Oman Open
¥ 3/5-3/8 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
¥ 3/12-3/15 Magical Kenya
¥ 3/19-3/22 Hero Indian Open
¥ 3/25-3/29 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
¥ 4/9-4/12 The Masters
¥ 4/16-4/19 Maybank Championship
¥ 4/23-4/26 Volvo China Open
¥ 4/30-5/3 Estrella D. Andalucia Masters
¥ 5/9-5/10 GolfSixes Cascals
¥ 5/14-5/17 US PGA Championship
¥ 5/21-5/24 Made in Denmark
¥ 5/28-5/31 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
¥ 6/4-6/7 Trophee Hassan II
¥ 6/11-6/14 Scandinavian Invitation
¥ 6/18-6/21 US Open
¥ 6/25-6/28 BMW International Open
¥ you have to believe that I had no idea this would be so long and that I just wanted to be helpful/informational…
¥ 7/2-7/5 Open de France
¥ 7/2-7/5 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational
¥ 7/9-7/12 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open
¥ 7/16-7/19 The 149th Open (British Open)
¥ 7/30-8/2 Betfred British Masters
¥ 7/30-8/2 Olympic Men’s Golf Competition
¥ 8/6-8/9 UK event
¥ 8/20-8/23 D+D Real Czech Masters
¥ 8/27-8/30 Omega European Masters
¥ 9/3-9/6 Porsche European Open
¥ at least I can keep this in the Commentary and just update it for the next year…
¥ 9/10-9/13 BMW PGA Championship
¥ 9/17-9/20 KLM Open
¥ 9/25-9/27 The 2020 Ryder Cup
¥ 10/1-10/4 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
¥ 10/8-10/11 Italian Open
¥ 10/15-10/18 Mutuactivos Open de Espana
¥ 10/22-10/25 Portugal Masters
¥ 10/29-11/1 WGC-HSC Champions
¥ 11/5-11/8 Turkish Airlines Open
¥ 11/12-11/15 Nedbank Golf Challenge
¥ 11/19-11/22 DP World Tour Championship

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season ended with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive battle 13-3 in the Super Bowl. The 100th NFL season is midway through the Playoffs. Let’s just deal with the lead story right off the bat, so I can breathe easier. My 12-4 Patriots did not last long in the playoffs, losing a close Wild Card Round game to the Titans in New England. I’m not making excuses for the now (he had a birthday Saturday) 42-year-old QB Tom Brady (who threw a pick-6 as potentially the last pass of his career), who now becomes a free agent, and the fact that he didn’t have TE Rob Gronkowski this year, so no extra blocking protection, blocking for running backs, extra punch on the goal line, and great target, but they lost. The Titans were better. So, Tom Brady has to decide if he will retire (and many think he should have after winning his 6th Super Bowl in 2018), whether he wants to have another go at it and not be remembered for a pick-6, or whether he may want to go to another team besides the Patriots. As I write this, the NY Times, People magazine, and NFL.com all reported that he has signed a $70 million extension with the Patriots for 2 years more. That would be nice, if the Patriots are finally paying him back for all those years that he took a salary cut, so the team could pay for wide receivers and people that protect Brady. However, Sports Illustrated and ESPN have yet to confirm that and are still trying to guess which team he will play for next year.

Okay, sorry for the rant, just had to get that out of the way. Let’s move on to the NFL Playoffs. There have been a few surprises. Not only did the Titans knock off the Patriots, but then last Saturday, they knocked of the No.1 seed high-scoring Ravens 28-12, with an overwhelming defense. Also, in the AFC, the Chiefs had no problems wiping out the Texans’ early 24-point lead, winning 51-31, on Sunday. On the NFC side, on Saturday, the No.1 seed 49ers handled the Vikings 27-10. Then, on Sunday, a battle broke out between the Packers and the Seahawks, and the Packers prevailed 28-23. So, that sets up this Sunday’s AFC Championship game between the Titans and Chiefs (the Chiefs are favored by 7 points), and the NFC Championship game between the 49ers and the Packers (the 49ers are favored by 7 points). The winners of these 2 games will face each other in the Super Bowl, which will be held this year in Miami.

New Orleans police have issued an arrest warrant for Odell Beckham Jr., after he handed out real cash to LSU players in the locker room. NFL executives are predicting that the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes will become the first $40 million-a-year QB. Speaking of the Super Bowl, Demi Lovato will be singing the National Anthem (I was snubbed again!). The Giants hired the Patriots’ WR coach Joe Judge and are now interviewing Cowboys’ former coach Jason Garrett for OC job. They had fired head coach Pat Shurmur. He was finally let go by the Cowboys and replaced by Mike McCarthy. The Bears are hiring DeFillippo as QB coach. Free agent, Antonio Brown’s, agent fired him. The Cardinals announced that WR Fitzgerald will play a 16th season. Panthers’ Kuechly surprised other players by retiring at 28. Jimmy Johnson was told on the air, in front of his TV announcing buddies and his former QB and now announcer Troy Aikman, that he is going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Both he and Troy were very choked up. The Browns fired Freddie Kitchens and hired current Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski as head coach. The Redskins are replacing their head coach, Jay Gruden, with Ron Rivera. The Panthers are replacing their head coach, Ron Rivera, with Matt Rhule.

NCAA Football:

After about 100 bowl games (it seems) over many weeks, the College Football Playoffs came down to 4 teams: No.1 and unbeaten LSU made easy work of No.4 Oklahoma 63-28 on 12/28, and No.3 Clemson won a close battle over No.2 Ohio State 29-23, on the same day. That left LSU to play Clemson for College Football National Championship, which they did this week on Monday. Despite LSU playing in the New Orleans Superdome (so, a home field/crowd advantage), and having the Heisman Trophy-winning QB Joe Burrow, they were down in the 2nd quarter 17-7 to Clemson star QB Trevor Lawrence, but came roaring back by halftime, and won 42-25, winning their first National Title since 2007. Seven LSU players already are entering the NFL Draft. Clemson won the National Title last year and this was their 4th time in 5 years of being in the Finals. Virginia Tech’s Fuente is out of running to coach Baylor. LSU’s coach Ed Orgeron won Bryant Award as top college coach.

Here is the post-bowl, final AP Top 25 Poll:

1. LSU 13-0
2. Clemson 14-1
3. Ohio State 13-1
4. Georgia 12-2
5. Oregon 12-2
6. Florida 11-2
7. Oklahoma 12-2
8. Alabama 11-2
9. Penn State 11-2
10. Minnesota 11-2
11. Wisconsin 10-4
12. Notre Dame 11-2
13. Baylor 11-3
14. Auburn 9-4
15. Iowa 10-3
16. Utah 11-3
17. Memphis 12-2
18. Michigan 9-4
19. Appalachian State 13-1
20. Navy 11-2
21. Cincinnati 11-3
22. Air Force 11-2
23. Boise State 12-2
24. UCF 10-3
25. Texas 8-5

NCAA Hockey

You know if I am adding a sport to this section, that I must have an agenda. Near the halfway point of the college hockey season, analysts are seeing Cornell University (my alma mater) and North Dakota as legitimate national title contenders to be in the Frozen Four.

NCAA Basketball

The college basketball season tipped off, with No.1 Michigan State facing No.2 Kentucky and losing by 5 points. It’s like déjà vu all over again, as this seems to be MSU’s recipe every year, playing a Top 3 team and losing by 5 points. Coach Izzo thinks this prepares his guys for March Madness and they won’t fear these teams when they face them. I don’t know if I agree, although his record speaks for itself. What I see is that they lose and plummet in the rankings. They also lost to Duke, another brutal opponent. Then, this weekend, they were pummeled by Purdue by 29 points. Here is the current AP Top 25 about halfway through this regular season:

1. Gonzaga 18-1
2. Baylor 13-1
3. Duke 15-1
4. Auburn 15-0
5. Butler 15-1
6. Kansas 12-3
7. San Diego State 17-0
8. Oregon 14-3
9. Florida State 14-2
10. Kentucky 12-3
11. Louisville 13-3
12. West Virginia 13-2
13. Dayton 14-2
14. Villanova 12-3
15. Michigan State 13-4
16. Wichita 15-1
17. Maryland 13-3
18. Seton Hall 12-4
19. Michigan 11-5
20. Colorado 13-3
21. Ohio State 11-5
22. Memphis 13-3
23. Texas Tech 10-5
24. Illinois 12-5
25. Creighton 13-4

NHL:

Last season ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Bruins 4-3 in the Finals. The puck dropped on this season on 10/2/19. The Bruins and Blues started out this season how they finished last season, on a tear. Bruins star goalie Tuuka Rask suffered a concussion in loss to the Predators the other night. Flyers goalie Hart will be out 2-3 weeks with an injured abdomen. The Golden Knights have fired coach Gallant and hired former Shark coach DeBoer. Surgery has sidelined Sabres’ Thompson for the season. The NHL All-Star game is coming up soon.

I know that the season is 82 games (we are around the halfway point), followed by a seemingly endless playoff that should end again in June, but here are the current/early standings. In the Eastern Conference: in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins are in first with a smoking 27-9-12 record (3rd best in NHL), with the Lightning in second; in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals are in first with a 31-11-5 record (2nd best in the NHL), followed by the Penguins in second. In the Western Conference: in the Central Division, the Stanley Cup Champion Blues are in first place at 30-10-8 (the best in the NHL), followed by the surprising Stars in second and the surprising Avalanche in close third; in the Pacific Division, the shocking Coyotes (one of the or the worst teams in NHL for past several seasons) lead with a 26-18-5 record. The worst team in the NHL right now are the Red Wings, boasting a dreadful 12-32-3 record.

NBA:

This year, the NBA season did not start until 10/22/19, 18 days later than last year. We are halfway through the season already. The Hawks acquired Jeff Teague in a trade with the Timberwolves. LeBron James remains in the lead in fan-voting for the AllStar game. Looking at the Standings, midway through the season, in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks lead and the Celtics slid back to a battle for 2nd with the Heat. In the Western Conference, the Lakers are on top, with the Nuggets and Jazz tied for 2nd, just 4 ½ games back. The Clippers are right on their heels. The Atlanta Hawks have the worst record at 9-32.

Fighting:

Conor McGregor returns to UFC to fight Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone this Saturday at UFC 246. In boxing, Evan Holyfield, yes, son of Evander Holyfield, is set for his 3rd fight. Yafai will defend his WBA belt against Chocolatito.

Tennis:

I held the door open at the gym for Venus Williams last week. The 2020 Australian Open is upon us, the first major of the season. The wildfire smoke forced some tennis players to withdraw from the courts.

Horse Racing:

The Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council has voted to support partial Lasix use, which is a reversal of their previous position. Dennis’ Moment is an early favorite for the 2020 Kentucky Derby. The death of Mongolian Groom in Breeders’ Cup could have been prevented, according to authorities. House of Representatives Congressmen are signing on to this Horseracing Integrity Act.

Racing:

In the NASCAR Cup Series of 2019, Kyle Busch won in the last race at Homestead. In 2018, the winner was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead. Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017. The 2020 regular season will begin in February with the Daytona 500. Here is the complete schedule of races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2020 and the results:

2/16 Daytona 500
2/23 Las Vegas, Jiffy Lube Pennzoil 400
3/1 Auto Club 400
3/8 Phoenix, FanShield 500
3/15 Atlanta, Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
3/22 Homestead, Dixie Vodka 400
3/29 Texas, O’Reilly Auto Parts 500
4/5 Bristol, Food City 500
4/19 Richmond, Toyota Owners 400
4/26 Talladega, GEICO 500
5/3 Dover, NASCAR Cup Race at Dover
5/9 Martinsville, NASCAR Cup Race at Martinsville
5/16 Charlotte, NASCAR All Star Open
5/24 Charlotte, Coca-Cola 600
5/31 Kansas, Kansas 400
6/7 Michigan, FireKeepers Casino 400
6/14 Sonoma, Toyota/Save Mart 350
6/21 Chicagoland, Chicagoland 400
6/28 Pocono, Worry-Free Weather Guarantee 350
7/5 Indianapolis, Big Machine Vodka 400
7/11 Kentucky, Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart
7/19 New Hampshire, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301
8/9 Michigan, Consumers Energy 400
8/16 Watkins Glen, Go Bowling at The Glen
8/23 Dover, Drydene 400
8/29 Daytona, Coke Zero Sugar 400
playoffs:
9/6 Darlington, Southern 500
9/12 Richmond, Federated Auto Parts 400
9/19 Bristol, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
9/27 Las Vegas, South Point 400
10/4 Talladega, Alabama 500
10/11 Charlotte, Bank of America ROVAL 400
10/18 Kansas, Hollywood Casino 400
10/25 Texas, Texas 500
11/1 Martinsville, NASCAR Cup Fall Race
11/8 Phoenix, NASCAR Cup Series Championship

Formula One begins with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That will be followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule. Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar and results (it might be easier to just say which races were not won by Lewis Hamilton). I will be posting the 2020 Formula One calendar in the next Repo Commentary:

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne-won by V. Bottas
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by Lewis Hamilton
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg-won by Max Verstappen
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone-won by Lewis Hamilton
7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim-won by Max Verstappen
8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest-Lewis Hamilton
9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa-Charles Leclerc
9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza-Charles Leclerc
9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore-Sebastian Vettel
9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi-Lewis Hamilton
10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka-V. Bottas
10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City-Lewis Hamilton
11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX-V. Bottas
11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo-M. Verstappen
12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

Here is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar and results (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars). The season just ended, with Josef Newgarden coming in 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for the championship. I will be posting the 2020 calendar in the next Repo Commentary:

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg-Josef Newgarden
3/24 Circuit of the Americas-Colton Herta
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama-Takuma Sato
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach-Alexander Rossi
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis-Simon Pagenaud
5/26 Indianapolis 500-Simon Pagenaud
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1-Josef Newgarden
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2-Scott Dixon
6/8 Texas Grand Prix-Josef Newgarden
6/23 Road America-Alexander Rossi
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto-Simon Pagenaud
7/20 Iowa 300-Josef Newgarden
7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio-Scott Dixon
8/18 Pocono Grand Prix-Will Power (I love that name!)
8/24 Gateway Grand Prix-Takuma Sato
9/1 Grand Prix of Portland-Will Power (that’s all it takes)
9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca-Colton Herta

Travel News:

Boeing’s woes regarding its B-737 MAX planes, with currently over 450 aircraft grounded by the FAA, have gotten worse. Not only did they have a software glitch that led to pilot difficulties and fatal crashes (and ultimately to the CEO being fired), which the FAA has yet to confirm the computer correction for, but now there appears to be a completely different, mechanical problem plaguing the planes. Street drag racing in Austin, TX killed one driver, as a second driver ran away. In unrelated news, two drag racing drivers avoided jail, after destroying their Ferrari and Porsche in a crash. Heinz is willing to pay your flight change fee if your favorite team doesn’t make the Super Bowl. Anthony Bourdain’s unpublished Travel Guide will be released this Fall. A Delta Airlines plane dropped fuel, in a move to make an emergency landing return to LAX airport, unfortunately right on an elementary school and its children. Venice, Italy is in trouble. It has been sinking for some time, but scientists believe the unusual record flooding will become a pervasive problem and early indicator of climate change, some of which has already ruined historic treasures. I read an interesting article comparing US military aircraft (F-35, F-15, F-16, F-18, JAS-39 Gripen, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, and F-22) and the F-35 has been beating all of the others in recent exercises, despite the bad reputation it had gotten because of flaws that have now been fixed. One thing that it excels at is its sensor system, which is a generation ahead of the F-22 and Eurofighter, similar to that of a stealthy AWAC. By the way, the US military intends to fly a stealth B-2 bomber over the Super Bowl for a flyover. In addition to the flaws being fixed, the F-35 price has plummeted to below the Dassault Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and the F-15 Silent Eagle. Airbus’ newest plane looks exactly like a beluga whale:

Health News:

An Israeli researcher has developed a molecule to block lupus. A new study shows that college students in states that have legalized recreational marijuana are more likely to smoke marijuana and smoke it more frequently, while binge drinking less. Lung injuries attributable to vaping have topped 2,600, but fewer cases are now being reported. Officially, there have been 2,668 hospitalized EVALI cases, with 60 deaths, reported to the CDC. Even with a new generic drug on the market, Multiple Sclerosis drug prices have tripled in 7 years. New research shows that women’s blood vessles age more quicky, leading to earlier heart disease. Researchers say about half of millennials haven’t received a flu shot, and a third don’t plan to get the vaccination. Experts say that, while fast-food companies hope people think Impossible Meat options are healthier choices, the trend is misleading and not necessarily healthier. The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act, a law sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and passed in 2017 is now set to increase accessibility for people with hearing disabilities and will hopefully reduce the very high costs for prescription hearing aids. Expanding Medicaid programs has helped, along with the use of methadone in those states that adopted the expanded programs, but it has not solved the opioid crisis. A new study suggests that marathon running may reverse a risky part of the aging process. A preclinical study using cell cultures has found that some antibiotics may help treat a genetic mutation associated with forms of early onset dementia. In other news, experts say that younger adults can lower their risk of early dementia (frontotemporal dementia) by moderate exercise. In mice, researchers have created a technology that can deliver proton radiation, killing cancer cells while preserving healthy tissue. I’ve had to deal with this recently…the GOP was unable to defeat Obamacare, but it did eliminate the IRS penalty for not having it in 2019 and beyond. However, Obamacare 2020 enrollment has held steady, dropping only about 5%. Researchers say that toxic chemicals in the household can lower a child’s IQ. The chemicals are found in electronics, furniture, and even some foods. The mysterious viral outbreak in China has been identified by Chinese authorities as Coronavirus, a respiratory illness that is similar to a 2002 outbreak of SARS. Canopy, the largest cannabis company by market value, decided to delay the roll out of its cannabis-infused drinks. It feels it is not quite able to ramp up commercial production to the scale necessary. The delay comes at a bad time, since the company DID roll out yesterday its online store, which sells cannabis edibles and drinks, in Ontario, Canada, which sold out within hours. Ben & Jerry’s is now doing a co-branding effort with Netflix, which now means that a lot of Netflix shows will be the names of new flavors of ice cream. Did you know that no one has had a real New York bagel since 1967? Many people have debated whether food can truly be defined by where its made, and bagels were offered as one of the examples. Well, it turns out that the bagel industry, by 1967, once dominated by old, Jewish men passing down traditional recipes, had been overtaken by newcomers who started creating their own fatter bagels that don’t become stale as quickly. So, ironically, the bagel became more popular among urban areas across the US with large Jewish populations, but was really not like the original Jewish versions at all. Researchers may have uncovered a clue to solving one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the pathology of Alzheimer’s. The study suggests treatments should be designed to target the norepinephrine pathway that triggers a toxic buildup of tau.

Animal News:

Scientists have discovered a huge Greenland (non-predatory) shark that is 512-years-old! They are studying the species to understand its slow growth to maturity (150 years), and amazing lifespans. In Australia, the bushfires have destroyed over 2,000 homes, killed at least 27 people, and killed an estimated 1 billion animals (some may now go extinct), and are still out of control in some parts. US fire fighters just arrived in Australia to join the fight. Rains hit the Northwest, cheered on by firefighters. Gale force winds are hampering firefighters’ efforts on two of the massive blazes, and combined the two into a “mega blaze” near Snowy Mountain. The Irwins, the family of the late animal advocate, Steve Irwin, have saved some 90,000 animals from the fires. Metallica just donated $750,000 to animal relief efforts in Australia. The Jerusalem Zoo has sent money and specialists to Australia to help in animal relief. The worst-hit areas are New South Wales and Victoria. Kangaroo Island, which houses some 25,000 koala bears, along with kangaroos, and many other species, was wiped out. Although the series of some 130 massive bushfires have been fueled by record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought, they were originally set by dry lightning (thunderstorms that don’t produce rain) and some humans. There has been a viral report that 200 arsonists had been arrested in connection with starting the blazes. But, actually, 24 people have been arrested for intentionally starting bushfires in Australia, since September 2019. The fires have led to horrendous smoke pollution as well, with air quality in the Australian capital Canberra rated the 3rd worst air quality of all major global cities on January 3rd, according to Swiss-based group AirVisual. Plumes of ‘black carbon’ have travelled more than 7000 miles from the fires. This substance is harmful to human health and contributes to climate change. Since July 1, 2019, an estimated 10 million hectares (100,000 square kilometers) have burned across Australia. That is nearly the size of England. Thankfully, on Thursday, five days of rain started, blanketing most of the areas on fire. Just today, it put out 30 bushfires in Australia. Scientists believe that wombats have been actually inviting other animals into their large burrows to escape the brushfires. Snopes says that this is only partially true. The wombats aren’t actively rescuing animals. However, an Australian sheepdog has been credited with saving hundreds of animals, by herding them away from the fire. The Charleston Animal Society sent a team to help animals found at a SC puppy mill. In Chicago, coyotes bit a 5-year-old boy multiple times near my old neighborhood in Lincoln Park, and a 32-year-old man near downtown in Streeterville. This is not a common occurrence in the US 3rd-largest city. However, authorities have estimated that there are a whopping 4,000 coyotes in Cook County. A squirrel got into the home of a family on vacation and trashed the place and the family’s homeowners insurance will not pay for the damage. A woman in Illinois has been charged with animal cruelty, after hundreds of animal carcasses were found in shallow graves at her nonprofit animal sanctuary that she founded. She allegedly “intentionally caused the deaths of multiple companion animals.” Arizona’s wildlife agency said last Wednesday that it killed 3 mountain lions who had fed on human remains found on a canyon trail. The lions are not suspected of killing the victim, but they were “lethally removed” due their “abnormal” behavior. Mountain lions are not normally scavengers, and those that show that behavior are more likely to attack a human being in the future. The 3 catamounts also did so in an open area, only 50 yards from a popular hiking train, within sight of homes, and showed no fear of responding officers. A German zoo fire killed over 30 animals, including apes, monkeys and bats. The governor of North Carolina is seeking help for critically endangered red wolf. SeaWorld Orlando plans to end its centerpiece killer-whale show at the start of 2020. A man was caught trying to smuggle 200 live scorpions from Sri Lanka to China! Diego, the 130-year-old Tortoise, famous for single-handedly repopulating his endangered species, is retiring. Did you know that there’s no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog? It turns out that all dogs produce proteins that can trigger allergic reactions in people. However, not all people with dog allergies are allergic to the same proteins.

Entertainment News:

The Golden Globes show host, Ricky Gervais, not one to shy away from controversy, shocked viewers and Hollywood attendees, by ripping them about their long-standing habit of thinking that just because they win an award or make millions of dollars, they now are the moral compass for the country and should use the opportunity to speak out about a number of subjects, like politics. He told them to grab their award, thank the appropriate people, and shut up and go sit down (a little more colorfully than I can include in the Repo Commentary). I wholeheartedly agree, and it seems that so does the public. However, the Golden Globes announced days later that Ricky Gervais would be replaced as the host by returning comedy duo Tina Fay and Amy Poehler. Prince Harry and Princess Meghan are in trouble with the Royal Family for their interviews and candid comments about Royal duties and desire to ‘step down’ from the role as “senior members” of the Royal family (and the duties incumbent on them) to focus on just their charities. Apparently, the Queen is furious, and Prince Charles and Prince William are trying to broker some agreement with Prince Harry, while Meghan vacations in Canada. She, herself, announced her plans to “step back” and become “financially independent” from the Royal family. Prince Harry may be thinking back to when the Royal family did not pay for or provide security for his mother, Princess Diana. In unrelated news, Kate Middleton said that Prince Harry doesn’t want any more children. Christopher Tolkien, the son of J.R.R. Tolkien and keeper of his legacy, has died at age 95. Britney Spears isn’t getting her own art show in France, after all. Selena Gomez is worried she has gone to “desperate” lengths for her album Rare. The 27-year-old released the album on 1/10 and has been going to many record stores to buy as many copies as she can to boost the record’s chances of reaching the No.1 album spot. I thought that was a job for your mother or the rest of your family? Jessica Biel’s Limetown and Elizabeth Olsen’s Sorry for Your Loss have been cancelled as Facebook Watch is focusing on more unscripted shows. I reported above that Demi Lovato will sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. The halftime extravaganza (referred to as the Pepsi Super Bowl bash) will feature Harry Styles, Jennifer Lopez, and Shakira. Ariana Grande has just been sued by singer/songwriter Josh Stone, claiming she ripped of his song in “7 Rings”. Kala Gerber has split from Pete Davidson. Justin Bieber is receiving IV drips to treat his Lyme disease. Sean Penn, 59, and girlfriend Leila George, 27, look “very much in love”. On TV, I was very happy to see the new season of Manifast begin, but then felt that same frustration with the writing of the many-tentaciled plot and constant ‘jumping the shark’, as well as the over-acting. The premise held such promise, but the writers and actors are killing it. I might have to drop this show. I was happy to see Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, and Chicago PD return, and loving Fire, enjoying Med, and not into PD again yet. Lately, I’ve also been binging mostly sports, Datelines, 20/20, 48 Hours, Below Deck: Thailand, and occasionally watching America’s Got Talent. I had to watch the 13-year-old’s performance about a dozen times on AGT, when she performed an amazing version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, about a ¼ the length of the original and starting in the middle of the song. It is breathtaking and earned a golden ticket from Heidi Klum. Eminem dropped a surprise album Music to be Murdered By and first music video Darkness, all of which calls for stricter gun laws in America. I guess he didn’t listen to Ricky Gervais. Watchmen will not be getting a second season, after creator Damon Lindelof ends it on his own terms. Jennifer Lawrence is offering her swank Upper East Side penthouse with panoramic NYC views for $12 million, after buying it for $15.45 million in 2016. Vanessa Hudgens split from Austin Butler. Famous tattoo artist Kat Von D has sold her 11-year-old cosmetics company, to focus on singing, motherhood, and her shoe company. Mariah Carey was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Chip and Joanna Gaines have finally set a launch date for their own lifestyle network. I do watch all of their shows, also that one about fix it or sell it, and of course, the cooking competition shows. King of Queens actress, Norma Michaels, has died at age 95, following a six-decade career in show business.

This will shock a lot of you, after years of going to up to 98 movies a year and reviewing them for you in the Repo Commentary, I’ve averaged only about a dozen a year for the past 5-7 years. Yet, I managed to get out during the New Year’s weekend and see the new STAR WARS movie. I’ve now seen all 9 of the movies and read most of the 226 books and short novels (I also now am hooked in to Youtini app to keep track of which ones I’ve read and haven’t read). Anyway, this last STAR WARS was one of the best movies of all of them, certainly right up there with NEW HOPE and EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (the first 2 movies, although later chapters). It combined many elements from all the movies, with cameos from the Ewoks to Han Solo, to Luke Skywalker, to AT-ATs, to Lando Carissian, to the Emperor, to Darth Vader, and many more. It also poignantly handled the death of Princess Leia (as actress Carrie Fisher died during filming). The news is that Disney is not done, although originally they reported this would be the last STAR WARS film. They intend to do spin-offs of certain characters and keep the STAR WARS universe alive, which thrills this STAR WARS fan! I also rented the movie JUDY, with Renee Zellweger fabulously performing the tragic story of Judy Garland. It was amazing and sad! I was familiar with much of the story, growing up, but was unaware of how MGM treated Judy as a child actor/singer and how abnormal her life was, almost as an abused prisoner.

This past weekend’s box-office was pretty strong, and Universal’s 1917 (which I absolutely must see) about WWI, pulled in $36.5 million to take the No.1 spot in its 2nd week, helped along by its two Golden Globe wins. Globally, it has already made over $60 million. No.2 was Disney’s STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, which made $15 million, bringing its cumulative US total to $478.2 million, after 4 weeks of release. The global tally is already a whopping $989.6 million! It will be Disney’s 7th 2019 movie that makes at least $1 billion globally. Sony’s JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL finished No.3 with an estimated $14 million, in its 5th week of release. It’s global total is $414 million. In No.4, was the debut of Paramount’s LIKE A BOSS, falling shy of its pre-weekend hype, with only $10 million. It tied with Warner Brothers’ JUST MERCY. Fox’s UNDERWATER debuted just outside the top 5, also short of studio’s expectations, delivering only $7 million.

We are in the midst of awards season, with Golden Globes just handed out and Monday’s announcement of Oscar nominations. Sony’s BAD BOYS FOR LIFE set a January Preview record of $6.36 million Thursday night. This is the 3rd or 4th film of the BAD BOYS franchise of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. That was well ahead of Universal’s DOLITTLE, with Robert Downey Jr., which posted $925,000 on Thursday night’s preview. I want to see DOLITTLE and its $175 million production. Other pictures coming out today are: FROZEN 2 SING-A-LONG, WEATHERING WITH YOU, MIRACLE IN CELL NO.7, PATTAS, AJAAM PATHIRA, BIG BROTHER, MY HINDU FRIEND, FEEDBACK, CASHING OUT, THE WAVE, THE HOST, DISTURBING THE PEACE.

Technology & Space News:

A 17-year-old student from Scarsdale, NY, on only his 3rd day of internship at NASA, discovered a new planet! No, he was not in the ‘satellite program’ and it is surprising that NASA hadn’t noticed a planet that resembles the fictional STAR WARS’ Luke Skywalker home planet of Tatooine with 2 suns/stars and is 8 times larger than Earth. Sadly, they named the planet a bunch of letters and numbers and not his name. However, on the bright side, he is waiting to hear from Stanford and MIT about their offers for him to attend college at one of the outstanding schools. Scientists announced that presolar stardust grains in the Murchison meteorite formed five to seven billion years ago, and are the oldest solid material found on Earth to date. Scientists have discovered a potential Super-Earth around the star closest to our Sun. Because of the surge in the stock market, Alphabet is now a $1 trillion company. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took a gamble at his meeting of key employees this week, by inviting Elon Musk to speak via video, and then asked the outspoken entrepreneur and Twitter user what he would do to improve Twitter if he were running it. He responded with something that Twitter is not proficient at doing, apparently, identifying and possibly removing bots and other fake accounts. Sometimes, it is better to know the answer before asking the question. Of course, Musk has his own issues at Tesla, as the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration is looking into a complaint that alleges 127 Tesla cars accelerated on their own. Researchers in Europe have developed a way to create oxygen from simulated moon dust. If they are able to replicate the process with real moon dust, lunar exploration and human settlement would be a lot easier. Visa has acquired Plaid.

Google parent Alphabet Inc. became the fourth U.S. company ever to achieve a $1 trillion market value Thursday… The search-engine giant joins peers Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. as the only firms to reach the threshold during intraday trading. Apple and Amazon accomplished the feat in the summer of 2018, while Microsoft hit $1 trillion for the first time in April of last year. Amazon never closed above $1 trillion and has fallen well behind Apple and Microsoft, which have rocketed past that level recently. WSJ

US News:

The House of Representatives, including 3 Republican Congressmen, voted that President Trump should not have the ability to wage war under certain parameters without Congressional approval. This move by the House is not that unusual, when a President, of any party, in the past has used Executive Authority to take certain military actions, particularly retributions, without informing Congress, controlled by any party, or leaking the info to the media. Congress still has the ultimate power to wage war for the United States. The Articles of Impeachment of President Trump, approved by the House of Representatives have now moved over to the Senate. The Senate has opened the Trump impeachment trial, as new Ukraine revelations emerge. Senators accepted the promise to deliver “impartial justice” and installed Chief Justice John Roberts as the presiding officer yesterday.

I want to say to some of my readers, who happen to be acquaintances or friends of mine in the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg for the US Army, who may have been, may be, or may not be deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, or Iran in the past several days or future days, that my prayers are with you, that you return home safely and you perform exactly how you imagined when you were trained, and I thank you so much for doing this for us.

International News:

Last Friday, Iran decided it was time to move the heavy equipment, bulldozers and excavators, in and clean up the crash site of the still-to-be-investigated crash of the Ukrainian Airliner, B-737-800, with 176 souls on board, that came crashing to the ground early Wednesday morning, minutes after takeoff from Tehran’s airport, and moments after one or two missiles were seen exploding into the aircraft on video. Iranian officials had denied claims that they mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian passenger jet and accused the United States of “spreading lies” about intelligence that suggested they did. However, over the weekend, Iran admitted that it HAD shot down the passenger plane, thinking it was a “cruise missile” close to its no-fly zone. Most of the people killed in the crash were Iranian and Canadian nationals. None were military personnel from any side. Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau said that his country has intelligence from its own agencies pointing to Iranian missiles hitting the jet. I have a naïve question: if there is a war-zone, or Iran is on high alert for an American retribution for the missile attack on American soldiers’ housing in Iraq by Iran the previous day, why is ANY commercial aircraft flying in the zone? Have we not learned from the recent, long grim history of civilian planes shot down by a military? How about the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shot down on 7/17/14 by (allegedly) Russian intelligence, killing 298 people; the Siberian Airlines Flight 1812 shot down 10/4/01 during a Ukrainian air defense exercise off the Black Sea’s Crimean coast, killing 78 people; Iran Air Flight 655 shot down on 7/3/88 by a US Navy warship in the Persian Gulf, killing 290 people; Korean Air Lines Flight 007, shot down 9/1/83, by a Soviet fighter jet, killing 274 people; Korean Air Lines Flight 902 in 1978, which was also shot down by the Soviets, killing 2 people; and Itavia Flight 870 shot down 6/27/80 possibly by the Italian government’s military, killing 81 people. Why are civilian airlines oblivious to warzones and military tension or aren’t warned? Why do militaries still make mistakes on identifying aircraft as friend, foe, or neutral? We can do amazing things in space exploration and even in cellphone technology, but we still can’t recognize a passenger plane on SAM installation radar or jet fighter radar? Why am I suddenly getting angry? Why isn’t everyone getting angry? Once Iran admitted the mistake, its own people, some one million became angry and protested the Iranian government offices. Nations of Iran crash victims are seeking compensation for families. Meanwhile, Iran’s President, on Thursday, said that there is “no limit” to the country’s enrichment of uranium, following its decision to abandon the commitments under the 2015 nucelar deal. In Malta, Robert Abela replaced Joseph Muscat as PM, in the wake of protests over the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Vladimir Putin has fast-tracked constitutional changes that could extend his rule in Russia well past the end of his term in 2024, while Russian lawmakers approved his choice of a new PM.

Florida:

The snowbirds are firmly entrenched here in Florida again, and they are making travel and restaurant reservations tough. But, is a boon for Florida, which relies on tourism. As long as they don’t come sick, we are ecstatic to welcome them!

I am usually singing a National Anthem, singing in my 6-part harmony group Generation Gap, and/or doing an Elvis Presley gig, each week here in Palm Beach County, FL. I had many gigs in November and December. That has quieted down some, although now we may be getting into more private parties and weddings, and away from restaurants. If you were inclined to see much more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there were many acts which came to Florida this in 2019, and these are expected to come in 2020 (below). A public service announcement about the outdoor amphitheater in West Palm Beach (currently adjacent to the South Florida Fair), it has been very confusing with all the name changes, and it has happened again. It was originally called the Coral Sky Amphitheater, then was changed to the Cruzan Rum Amphitheater, then to Perfekt Vodka Amphitheater, then back to Coral Sky Amphitheater, and was changed again this week to iThink Financial Services Amphitheater. None of the names have been particularly catchy and all those changes occurred only in the last 11 years!

SOUTH FLORIDA 2020 SCHEDULE (next 2 months):

Celine Dion-Miami, January 17
Queensryche-Fort Lauderdale, January 17
Brian Wilson-Miami, January 17
Mary Wilson-Bonita Springs, January 19
Starship-West Palm Beach, January 22
Steve Martin & Martin Short-Hollywood, January 25
Guns N Roses-Miami, January 31
Jason Aldean,Riley Green,Morgan Wallen-Orlando, January 31
Maroon 5-Miami, February 1
Zac Brown Band-Sunrise, February 1
Styx-Port St. Lucie, February 1
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 11
Kool and the Gang & Village People-Key West, February 21
John Fogarty-Fort Lauderdale, February 22
Foreigner, Kansas, and Europe-West Palm Beach, September 6

Repo Commentary-12/06/19

IMG_5434IMG_5397IMG_5402IMG_5418IMG_5419IMG_5420IMG_5427IMG_5428IMG_5429IMG_5430IMG_5436IMG_5437IMG_5438IMG_5439IMG_5471IMG_5441IMG_5442IMG_5444IMG_5445IMG_5463IMG_5464IMG_5469IMG_5470IMG_5493IMG_5504[1]IMG_5505[1]IMG_5513[1]IMG_5514[1]IMG_5504IMG_5505IMG_5513IMG_5514IMG_5519IMG_5520IMG_5524IMG_5525IMG_5526IMG_5503

First, I hope you and your families had a Happy Thanksgiving! 

 

I am still NOT retired.  Hopefully, I will have news about that very soon.  I enjoyed seeing many of you here in Boca Raton, FL at the RMA Conference in October.  It was the 37thRMA Conference and my 37th

 

 

We are having our Florida Winter this week, in the 60’s and 70’s, while many of you are experiencing brutal temperatures and 1-2 feet of snow up North. 

 

 

My Repo Commentary is posted free (it’s actually always been free) on my website:  www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed.  I’m trying to make it more frequent, but I’ve been swamped.

 

 

If you need to reach me, my mobile is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com,and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

 

 

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information.  I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures! Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time. As many of you know, it used to be a daily Repo Commentary back in the 80s and for a long time. But, then again, I used to be younger. I don’t know how I typed this by hand (still do) every single day (and didn’t get fired) and even re-wrote some 200 song lyrics to current market activity.

 

 

Holidays or Events (12/06):

 

 

  • It is the 37thanniversary of me joining Morgan Stanley and entering the industry of Securities Financing.
  • Bartender Appreciation Day
  • Miners’ Day
  • Faux Fur Day
  • Mitten Tree Day
  • National Gazpacho Day
  • International Sweater Vestival
  • Put On Your Own Shoes Day
  • National Microwave Oven Day
  • International St. Nicholas Day
  • National Pawnbrokers Day
  • Constitution Day in Spain
  • Day of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan
  • Independence Day in Finland
  • National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada

 

 

Some Famous People Born on 12/06 in History:

 

 

  • 1285-Ferdinand IV of Castile
  • 1421-Henry VI of England
  • 1520-Barbara Radziwill, Queen of Poland
  • 1642-Johann Christoph Bach, German organist and composer
  • 1792-William II of The Netherlands
  • 1805-Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, French magician
  • 1827-William Arnott, Australian biscuit manufacturer and founder of Arnott’s Biscuits
  • 1876-Fred Duesenberg, German-American businessman, co-founded the Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company
  • 1896-Ira Gershwin, American songwriter
  • 1900-Agnes Moorehead, American actress
  • 1903-Tony Lazzeri, American baseball player and manager
  • 1908-Baby Face Nelson, American gangster
  • 1917-Irv Robbins, Canadian-American businessman, co-founded Baskin-Robbins
  • 1920-Dave Brubeck, American pianist and composer
  • 1924-Wally Cox, American actor
  • 1927-Jim Fuchs, American shot putter and discus thrower
  • 1928-Bobby Van, American actor, dancer, and singer (and inspiration for at least 5 steakhouses in Manhattan!)
  • 1944-Jonathan King, English singer-songwriter, record producer, music entrepreneur
  • 1945-Larry Bowa, American baseball player and manager
  • 1945-Dan Harrington, American lawyer and pro poker player
  • 1946-Frankie Beverly, American soul/funk singer-songwriter, musician, and producer
  • 1948-JoBeth Williams, American actress
  • 1953-Dwight Stones, American highjumper and sportscaster
  • 1953-Gary Ward, American baseball player and coach
  • 1955-Steven Wright, American actor, comedian, and screenwrither
  • 1956-Peter Buck, American guitarist, songwriter, and producer
  • 1967-Judd Apatow, American director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1970-Ulf Ekberg, Swedish singer-songwriter, keyboard player, and producer
  • 1988-Adam Eaton, American baseball player
  • 1992-Johnny Manziel, American football player

 

This Day in History (12/06):

 

 

  • 963-Pope Leo VIII is appointed to the office of Protonotary and begins his papacy as Antipope of Rome.
  • 1060-Bela I is crowned King of Norway.
  • 1240-Mongol invasion of Rus’: Kiev under Daniel of Galicia and Volvode Dmytro falls to the Mongols under Batu Khan.
  • 1534-the city of Quito in Ecuador is founded by Spanish settlers led by Sebastian de Belalcazar.
  • 1704-Battle of Chamkaur: during the Mughal-Sikh Wars, an outnumbered Sikh Khasa defeats a Mughal army.
  • 1745-Charles Edward Stuart’s begins retreat during the second Jacobite Rising.
  • 1790-the US Congress moves from New York City to Philadelphia.
  • 1846-American and California forces clash at the Battle of San Pasqual.
  • 1865-Georgia ratifies the 13thAmendment to the US Constitution.
  • 1877-the first edition of The Washington Post is published.
  • 1884-the Washington Monument in Washington, DC is completed.
  • 1897-London becomes the world’s first city to host licensed taxicabs.
  • 1904-Theodore Roosevelt articulated his “Corollary” to the Monroe Doctrine, state that the US would intervene in the Western Hemisphere should Latin America governments prove incapable or unstable.
  • 1907-a coal mine explosion at Monongah, West Virginia kills 362 workers.
  • 1912-the Nefertiti Bust is discovered.
  • 1916-WWI: the Central Powers capture Bucharest.
  • 1917-Finland declares independence from Soviet Russia.
  • 1917-Halifax Explosion: a munitions explosion near Halifax, Nova Scotia, kills more than 1,900 people in the largest artificial explosion up to that time.
  • 1917-WWI: USS Jacob Jones is the first American destroyer to be sunk by enemy action, when it is torpedoed by German submarine SM U-53.
  • 1921-the Anglo-Irish Treaty is signed in London by British and Irish representatives.
  • 1933-US federal judge John M. Woolsey rules that James Joyce’s novel Ulysses is not obscene.
  • 1941-WWII: the United Kingdom and Canada declare war on Finland in support of the Soviet Union during the Continuation War. Camp X opens in Canada to begin training Allied Secret Agents for the War.
  • 1942-WWII: Stary Capielow and Rekowka German Genarmerie massacred 31 Poles for helping Jews, and killed 2 Jewish refugees in the murder.
  • 1947-the Everglades National Park in Florida is dedicated.
  • 1953-Vladimir Nabokov completes his controversial novel
  • 1956-a violent water polo match between Hungary and the USSR takes place during the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, against the backdrop of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
  • 1957-Project Vanguard: a launchpad explosion of Vanguard TV3 thwarts the first US attempt to launch a satellite.
  • 1967-Adrian Kantrowitz performs the first human heart transplant in the US.
  • 1969-Attamont Free Concert: at a free concert performed by the Rolling Stones, eighteen-year-old Meredith Hunter is stabbed to death by Hells Angels security guards.
  • 1971-Pakistan severs diplomatic relations with India, iniating the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
  • 1973-the Twenty-fifth Amendment: the US House of Representatives votes 387-35 to confirm Gerald Ford as Vice President of the US.
  • 1975-The Troubles: fleeing from the police, a Provisional IRA unit takes a British couple hostage in their flat on Balcombe Street, London, beginning a six-day siege.
  • 1989-the Ecole Polytechnique massacre (or Montreal Massacre): Marc Lepine, and anti-feminist gunman, murders 14 young women at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.
  • 1991-Yugoslav Wars: in Croatia, forces of the Serb-dominated Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) bombard Dubrovnik after laying siege to the city for seven months.
  • 1992-the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, India, is demolished, leading to widespread riots causing the death of over 1,500 people.
  • 1995-Khabarovsk United Air Group Flight 3949 crashes into the Bo-Dzhausa Mountain, killing 98.
  • 1997-a Russian Antonov-An-124 Russian cargo plane crashes into an apartment complex near Irkutsk, Siberia, killing 67.
  • 1998-in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez is victorious in presidential elections.
  • 1999-A&M Records, Inc. V. Napster, Inc.: the Recording Industry Association of America sues the peer-to-peer file-sharing service for copyright infringement.
  • 2005-an Iranian Air Force C-130 military transport aircraft crashes into a ten-floor apartment building in a residential area of Tehran, killing all 94 on board and 12 more on the ground.
  • 2006-NASA reveals photographs by Mars Global Surveyor suggesting the presence of liquid water on Mars.
  • 2015-Venezuelan elections are held. For the first time in 17 years, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela loses its majority in parliament.
  • 2017-Donald Trump’s administration officially announces the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

 

 

 

 Daily Weird Facts:

 

 

Ostriches are the largest and heaviest birds in the world, they can outrun leopards, their kick is strong enough to kill a lion, male ostriches can roar like a lion, and they can see as far as 2.2 miles.

 

 

 

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

 

 

 

“This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.”—Maya Angelou

 

 

 

Currency and Commodity Markets:

 

Oil prices closed at:

 

$74.34/barrel on 10/5

$47.66/barrel on 12/23

$48.63 on 01/07

$52.31/barrel on 01/16

$55.26/barrel on 2/3

$55.41/barrel on 2/26

$73.77/barrel on 4/29

$63.28/barrel on 5/17

$54.07/barrel on 6/18

$55.96/barrel on 7/24

$58.31/barrel on 9/10

$53.50/barrel on 10/2

$59.10/barrel on 12/6

 

 

 

Saudi Aramco IPO’ed. The world’s top oil producers are hinting at bigger production cuts. The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station just jumped in the past week by 20 cents, probably because of Thanksgiving travel demand, to $2.42/gallon. Most of the other stations in the area are 30-70 cents more per gallon.

 

 

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all Repo Commentary dates):

 

112.20 on 12/24

108.60 on 01/07

109.07 on 01/16

103.18 on 02/03

104.86 on 2/25

103.86 on 5/17

102.59 on 6/18

102.43 on 7/24

101.72 on 9/10

102.16 on 10/02

102.96 on 12/06

 

 

 

One Euro was trading on:

 

12/24 at $1.1426

01/07 at $1.1478

01/16 at $1.1396

02/03 at $1.2047

02/25 at $1.1955

05/17 at $1.1761

06/18 at $1.1825

07/24 at $1.1740

09/10 at $1.1623

10/02 at $1.1504

12/06 at $1.1688

 

 

 

One British Pound was trading on:

 

12/24 at $1.2655

01/07 at $1.2770

01/16 at $1.2880

02/03 at $1.3758

02/25 at $1.3728

05/17 at $1.3427

06/18 at $1.3157

07/24 at $1.3070

09/10 at $1.2959

10/02 at $1.2882

12/06 at $1.3819

 

 

 

One USD versus the CAD at:

 

1.3442 on 12/24

1.3297 on 01/07

1.3255 on 01/16

1.2492 on 2/03

1.2492 on 2/25

1.2800 on 5/17

1.2740 on 6/18

1.2480 on 7/24

1.2520 on 9/10

1.2560 on 10/02

1.2530 on 12/06

 

 

 

 

Gold closed on 9/09 at $1504.90/ounce.  On 10/02, it closed at $1498.70/ounce. Today, it closed at $1,464.40.

 

 

 

Bitcoin was trading at (Repo Commentary Dates):

 

$8,185.21 on 7/25

$6,350 on 10/5

$3,774.97 on 12/24/18

$3,7774.97 on 01/07

$3,598.90 on 01/16

$3,421.10 on 02/06

$3,826.44 on 02/26

$8,100.00 on 05/16

$7,215.79 on 05/17

$9,088.59 on 06/18

$11,919.30 on 06/25

$9,790.37 on 07/24

$10,183.90 on 09/10

$8,235.46 on 10/02

$7,470.41 on 12/06

 

After rebounding dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer, rallied during the Summer, and recently has tumbled again in the past three months.

 

 

 

 

 

Global Financial News:

 

 

State-owned oil company’s, Saudi Aramco, raised $25.6 billion in world’s biggest IPO. This values the company at $17 trillion, short of what Riyadh was hoping for.  BlackRock’s stockpicking wiz, Mark Wiseman, once thought to have an inside track to be a possible successor to CEO Larry Fink, has been ousted over allegations of an inappropriate relationship.  A group of Russians have been charged over a global bank internet fraud.  The head of the syndicate has been accused of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 10 years and allegedly currently has a $5 million bounty on his head.  Gucci-owner Kering is exploring adding Moncler, an Italian maker of ski suits and jackets, to its luxury company. Canadian banks have started a round of layoffs, as profitability has dipped. French workers are protesting pensions in the biggest public sector strike since 1995.  The strikes have now shut down the trains and subway and closed Versailles.  A California man, Kyle Dennis, who was $80,000 in debt when he decided to invest every penny to his name in the stock market, has made $2.8 million trading from home.  More than $370 trillion of existing financial contracts use are pegged to LIBOR worldwide and $200 trillion of them are denominated in US dollars. The end of LIBOR is about 2 years away for everything from Swaps to mortgages to credit cards.  The leading candidate to replace it is SOFR. (see more in Federal Reserve section below)

 

 

US Market News:

 

The Dow Jones (global stocks as well), along with other stock indices, were enjoying record or near-record highs in late July 2019 (feeding off of earnings reports, US budget progress, and the Fed switching to easing monetary policy) but then corrected some 10% in August 2019, due to global political unrest and tariff/trade wars. Since August, it was turbulent, but then gave way to another strong rally.

 

 

The Dow Jones closed at (Repo Commentary Dates):

 

26,656.77 on 9/20/18

26,447.05 on 10/5/18

21,792.20 on 12/23/18

21,712.53 on 12/26/18

24,207.16 on 01/16/19

25,063.89 on 2/06/19

26,106.47 on 2/25/19

25,862.68 on 5/16/19

26,465.54 on 6/18/19

27,269.97 on 7/24/19

26,793.09 on 9/10/19

26,229.31 on 10/02/19 down 343.73 points

28,015.06 on 12/06/20 up 337.27 points as I write this

 

 

S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20/18 of 2,930.66, then marched back up to a new high on 7/24/19, only to correct to nearly 2,800 three times in August, before rising again to near the highs, closing on:

 

10/5/18 at 2,885.58

12/26/18 at 2,467.70

01/07/19 at 2,549.69

01/16/19 at 2,616.10

02/06/19 at 2,706.53

02/25/19 at 2,799.34

05/16/19 at 2,876.32

06/18/19 at 2,917.75

07/24/19 at 3,019.56 new all-time high

09/10/19 at 2,969.04

10/02/19 at 2,906.94 down 33.31

12/06/20 at 3145.91

 

 

Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28/18 high of 8,030.04, closing on:

 

10/5/18 at 7,788.45

12/26/18 at 6,554.36

01/07/19 at 6,823.47

01/16/19 at 7,034.70

02/06/19 at 7,263.87

02/25/19 at 7,561.87

05/16/19 at 7,898.05

06/18/19 at 7,953.68

07/24/19 at 8,321.50 new all-time high

09/10/19 at 8,043.58

10/02/19 at 7,809.22 down 99.46

12/06/20 at 8,656.07 up 142.05 at the close

 

 

 

US Treasury yields have been in free-fall since hitting highs in October 2018.

 

2 YEAR NOTES closed on:

 

10/5/18 at 2.88%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

01/07/19 at 2.53%

01/16/19 at 2.55%

02/06/19 at 2.52%

02/22/19 at 2.48%

05/16/19 at 2.20%

06/18/19 at 1.86%

07/24/19 at 1.83%

09/09/19 at 1.58%

10/01/19 at 1.56%

12/06/19 at 1.61%

 

 

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

 

10/5/18 at 2.99%

12/18/18 at 2.64%

01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)

01/16/19 at 2.53%

02/06/19 at 2.50%

02/22/19 at 2.46%

05/16/19 at 2.15%

06/18/19 at 1.80%

07/24/19 at 1.79%

09/09/19 at 1.52%

10/01/19 at 1.51%

12/06/19 at 1.64%

 

 

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

 

10/5/18 at 3.07%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

01/07/19 at 2.49%

01/16/19 at 2.54%

02/06/19 at 2.51%

02/22/19 at 2.47%

05/16/19 at 2.18%

06/18/19 at 1.83%

07/24/19 at 1.82%

09/09/19 at 1.49%

10/01/19 at 1.51%

12/06/19 at 1.67%

 

 

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

 

10/5/18 at 3.18%

12/18/18 at 2.74%

01/07/19 at 2.60%

01/16/19 at 2.62%

02/06/19 at 2.59%

02/22/19 at 2.55%

05/16/19 at 2.28%

06/18/19 at 1.93%

07/24/19 at 1.93%

09/09/19 at 1.57%

10/01/19 at 1.59%

12/06/19 at 1.78%

 

 

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

 

10/5/18 at 3.23%

12/18/18 at 2.82%

01/07/19 at 2.70%

01/16/19 at 2.73%

02/06/19 at 2.70%

02/22/19 at 2.65%

05/16/19 at 2.40%

06/18/19 at 2.06%

07/24/19 at 2.05%

09/09/19 at 1.83%

10/01/19 at 1.65% dramatic drop in one month!

12/06/19 at 1.84% dramatic rise in two months!

 

 

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

 

10/5/18 at 3.40%

12/18/18 at 3.07%

01/07/19 at 2.99%

01/16/19 at 3.07%

02/06/19 at 3.03%
02/22/19 at 3.02%

05/16/19 at 2.84%

06/18/19 at 2.55%

07/24/19 at 2.58%

09/10/19 at 2.11%

10/01/19 at 2.11%

12/06/19 at 2.29%

 

 

US Treasury yields have risen, despite the Fed’s continued intervention in the target rate, to October levels.

                                                                                   

 

Housing News:

 

 

The NY Times officially declared the Manhattan real estate a “buyers’ market”.  However, in Florida, local newspapers of Palm Beach reported that the real estate market for high-end properties is up 20% in price and that a hedge fund manager/billionaire just purchased a mansion on “Billionaire’s Row” near President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago for $110 million, which is a new record high for Palm Beach County.  He purchased it from a beauty supply mogul (not the Nexus lady who has that gorgeous one that looks like the White House).  Of course, he already has a $90 million mansion in The Hamptons and a $60 million townhouse/mansion on Park Ave. in NYC.  It’s kind of funny that at the end of the article, they mentioned that the property had been listed for $200 million, yet it is cheered as a positive sign for local real estate.  Tudor and another hedge fund manager had already moved down here to Palm Beach, so the hedge fund exodus continues, as tax deduction limits in NY and CT, lack of Homesteading, and weaker divorce laws, push more folks to Florida. It also could just be, as Jerry Seinfeld said, “the law, everyone eventually has to move to Florida, God’s waiting room.”  I keep in touch with some of the over 10,000 real estate brokers here (oddly almost exactly the same number of lawyers) in Florida, and they tell me that they do see a shift from purchasing property to renting property.  Also, the international money that was scooping up the skyscrapers condos in Miami has started to dry up and vacancies are beginning to pile up, even before several new skyscrapers have yet to be completed. If you recall, in 2008, I told you about how many buildings stood incompleted in Miami after the Financial Crisis.  I’m actually looking out my balcony at an uncompleted hotel here.  By the way, in West Palm Beach, FL, both the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals finally completed the renovations to the hotels that they bought to house players and families during Spring Training.  Officially, UK average house prices climbed by 1% in November, compared to October. This is a 9-month high right ahead of the UK general election. Toronto-Dominion Bank has been added to the list of global systemically important banks (GSIBs).

 

 

Repo News:                              

 

 

 

I am guessing that this is the first time for many to actually scroll down to the Repo Market section of the Repo Commentary first, rather than Entertainment or Sports.  Well, I guess that’s understandable.  We have been experiencing those once-in-a-decade volatile periods in the Securities Finance Market that suddenly put the word “Repo” on the front pages of Bloomberg, WSJ, and NY Times, baffling hundreds of millions of people around the world.  I intended to write this Repo Commentary a month ago, but got a deluge of calls from clients, colleagues, and media about the current state of affairs. It’s nice to be needed and the first call when there is trouble in our Securities Financing industry, to an extent. The minutes of the FOMC meeting show that Fed officials had a long discussion about ‘putting in place a permanent Repo facility to be a backstop in case of future turmoil in the short-term lending market, to avoid the episode of rate volatility in September.  An alternative idea floated at the meeting was to start more frequent open market repo operations that could be increased in size if needed.  What they did agree on is that the don’t want to push the target range into negative territory.

 

Well, “repo” is the lubricant of the money market system, particularly the issuance of US Treasuries and other bonds, and it only comes up in conversation among non-participants when the gears start squeaking or fail to function, like yelling for WD 40.  And, the last time the general public heard about “repo” it was during the Financial Crisis.

 

I know you’ve seen many articles on the subject of current repo market illiquidity and volatility, I’ve read them too.  I think I can summarize them all and add my now 37 years of experience in the Securities Finance market to lay out the causes and possible solutions.

 

To look at the WHY, one need look at what has happened since the Financial Crisis. 

 

  • The regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve, instituted emergency liquidity programs for different sectors of the money market (CP, Corporate Bonds, Broker/Dealers, GSEs, etc.). They eventually unwound those many programs.
  • They opened up for a brief time the Discount Window to more participants and without the previous stigma attached, for collateral providers to access cash.
  • They put FNMA and FHLMC into conservatorship.
  • They began easing Monetary Policy massively for years.
  • They began Quantitative Easing and built up the Fed’s balance sheet to $4.5 trillion. They added to it by buying more securities every month from the paydowns on their MBS portfolio.
  • They propped up some broker/dealers, allowed some to fail, and helped others to consolidate/merge.
  • The Repo Market shrunk in the US from about $7 trillion to $3 trillion, before recent increase to about $3.6 trillion.
  • Regulators instituted mountains of new reforms, especially the 310 new rules of Dodd-Frank, globally to decrease the likelihood of systemic risk in the financial system and to force, particularly the broker/dealers and GSIB banks to hold more capital/reserves for liquidity.
  • The market began looking for alternatives to financing through broker/dealers via CCPs, peer-to-peer financing, Sponsored Repo, and electronic trading platforms.
  • The Fed began its much hailed RRP program, which added over 300 cash providers from the Repo market to finance the Fed’s balance sheet and provide ‘liquidity’ for those cash providers.
  • The Fed stopped QE and began reducing their balance sheet down to $2.5 trillion.
  • The US Treasury began ramping up issuance to the tune of about $1 trillion more, which is funneled through the 24 primary broker/dealers and the central banks.
  • The Fed began tightening monetary policy and tinkering with new measures of repo rates and LIBOR replacement. They also began tinkering with the Interest on Excess Reserves (IOER) from banks and credit unions, to try to create higher reserves.
  • The Fed did an about face and began easing monetary policy. They also lowered IOER.

That’s not everything that happened, but that gives you the broad strokes. And just in those bullet points, I see many of the contributing factors of the recent dislocation of the repo market.  And, by the way, that actually refutes Mr. Memani’s later comment that “Nothing much has happened in the money markets since financial crisis. A lot more happened in those 11 years than happened in the 26 years that I was in the money markets. 

 

I believe the reasons we had dislocations over the last week or so in repo rates, up as high as 10% the first day and 6% the second day, despite the Fed easing the target to 1.75%-2.00% the third day, and coming in with Overnight Open Market Operations (which they used to do daily—Customer RPs, System RPs, Match Sales—which was how we used to determined what they were doing with Monetary Policy, based on whether they were adding reserves or removing reserves and to what extent, but I won’t “bore” you), come down to a major imbalance of bank reserves, behavior not consistent with expectation, illiquidity in the repo market (rather than the highly touted increase in liquidity), concentration risk, a corporate tax date that removed cash from the repo market, humongous new supply of US treasuries being issued, many Repo market participants out of the Federal Reserve direct loop, and a mountain of hundreds of new regulations that broker/dealers (and others) are trying to still absorb and position reserves/capital, personnel, and trading strategies for.  As you can see, there are a lot of balls in the air!

 

I’m not sure why participants and regulators didn’t foresee an imbalance (lack of) bank reserves.  The piles of new regulations that regulators gave to the money markets fundamentally required banks to hold more reserves versus balance sheets (which repo is the major contributor to), the low yields may have encouraged banks to use reserves elsewhere in more profitable areas than repo (they are profit-motivated, as they should be), and the Fed lowered the IOER which may have disincented banks from depositing reserves at the Fed. The decrease in the Fed’s balance sheet came at the cost of the market absorbing those securities. The US Treasury issuing phenomenal amounts of securities that have to be taken by the 24 primary dealers (already full up on balance sheets they are trying to reduce) and the central banks/swfs (who already have $14 trillion of US Treasuries, should have been know as a potential clog in the system.  Plus, with the Fed lowering rates, the returns on those US Treasuries would be lower for those new owners.  And the central banks ownership of US Treasuries is another complicated story, one of ripple effects.  They can’t really sell US Treasuries into this market, without having some issue with the US Government, whichever branch.  But, yet, many of them need to support their currency, particularly against the US Dollar.  So, some of them enter the Repo market to repo the US Treasuries to receive US Dollars to then buy their own currencies with, propping up their currency by kicking the can somewhat down the road, until their GDP rises or oil prices rise (raising their specific GDP).  Layer over that macroeconomic soup a topping of trade wars and tariffs, it becomes rather complex to predict.  And, that brings me to my last observation, that unintended consequences arose from the hundreds of regulations foisted on the money market, mainly because market behavior is not that predictive.  Regulators thought that if they made the system safer, more investors would come in, but yet the repo market didn’t grow that much, but yet supply from the Fed and from the US Treasury increased dramatically.  Regulators thought that if the banks had more reserves and capital, they would pass that on to the buyside, but that didn’t take into account their profit motivations and individual bank idiosyncricies.  Lastly, the regulators didn’t expect the perfect storm of added supply, taxes withdrawn, cash out of the system, reserves lower, and tools that would work directly only on the 24 primary dealers and the 300 cash providers in RRP.  I’ve been remarking for years, since the RRP, that there was not a comparable program for collateral providers/leveraged players in the Repo market.  Steve Malekian went further to say, a year ago, that the newly touted liquidity of the Repo market was “only for Platinum accounts.” It was only for select buyside clients. 

 

So, the Fed needs to do something.  And, I don’t mean just the Overnight operations with the 24 primary dealers.  I can’t even predict what those dealers’ positions are or how the added liquidity would flow to the buyside clients.  The extra cash could be used to fund their Swaps desk, the Repo Desk, other outright traders, Platinum accounts, or speculatively with leveraged accounts (as a few savvy broker/dealers have seen that opportunity and gone short to reverse in at higher rates from leveraged accounts and supply balance sheet).  The point is that the mound of regulations and the open market operations and the tinkering with the IOER are supposed to impact banks and broker/dealers in such a way to induce certain behavior, but behavior is unique.  So, the Fed needs to go back to its ample toolkit (and get people who have been there at least 10 years) to:

  • Implement more term RPs, to give the market some faith and reduce Fed reputational risk
  • Purchase securities, either US Treasuries or Agency MBS, increasing the Fed balance sheet (although this may be difficult because there were probably several good reasons why they decreased it.)
  • Open the Discount Window to more participants, with NO stigma attached (it used to be how one in the market knew who was having a liquidity crisis), and other sectors represented.
  • Create a collateral provider facility, similar to RRP, or help reduce the hurdles, like CCLF for CCPs and Sponsored Repo type ventures to increase liquidity.
  • Tinker the IOER rate UP, rather than down, to increase the Reserves at the Fed.
  • Support/encourage Repo done outside of the 24 primary dealers, helping collateral providers find cash providers, when certain broker/dealers are balance sheet full and capital restrained from the very regulations that the Fed was involved in. I hope that didn’t come out too angry.  I think systemic risk reduction is a huge priority and I am worried about firesale risk (although I don’t think moving the sale down the road to 7 days or 30 days changes firesale risk, it just changes the date of the firesale).
  • Have the Fed be a permanent backstop to the Repo market.

The bottom line is that the money markets, particularly the securities finance market (Repo & Securities Lending) is still trying to find its footing, particularly as the Repo market has shrunk, while Treasury supply has increased.

 

 

 

 

I still see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways.  We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for ALL collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers, which has been volatile but certainly widened since the Financial Crisis, and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis, which not only subjected clients to dealer defaults and wider spreads, but in many cases directly impacted clients by making them suddenly the outright traders of repo collateral. Some of that collateral, on top of it, was very illiquid.  Not knowing who the other clients were on the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book, and who could potentially bring down those intermediary dealers was costly for many clients.  Clearly, with that pipeline of is intermediation becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets (which has recovered partially with new entrants to the market and international banks’ increases due to regulatory arbitrage) being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be explored for cash provider and collateral provider clients.  My former baby, AVM’s Direct Repo™, was the first of one of such pathways, over 10 years ago.  Since then, many other liquidity pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agented repo through seclending agents and some prime brokers to buyside clients, direct lending from beneficial owners to hedge funds who are short via their agents, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations of their custodial clients, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like (Elixium, BNY DBVX, State Street’s Cash Cross), FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products for certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, dealer to dealer and some clients electronic trading platforms (like GLMX, HQLA, and Tradeweb), other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (particularly in Europe, like Eurex, LCH, OCC, CME, etc.), total return swaps platforms (like WeMatch.com), and collateralized loan exchanges like AFX/CBOE. There have still been other firms that have created some king of product that mimics a repo, but yet doesn’t show up on dealers’ balance sheets (so helps them), and/or provides better credit counterparties (so helps clients), and can take many forms. I believe this overall evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used in some part, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers. Some of that balance sheet has returned, as I mentioned above, but maybe for only select ‘platinum’ clients and may come at a higher bid/offer spread or in specific, more profitable products/securities, as other market observers/experts have said.  The US tariffs on China have strangely had little effect on Import Prices.

 

 

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:

 

 

 

  • Deutsche Borse/Clearstream held its annual conference this week in Luxembourg, which I attended last year.
  • IMN 25thBeneficial Owners International Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference was held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/5-2/6. I was chosen as the Chairperson.
  • Finadium held a new conference on the Business of Collateral Trading in Frankfurt, Germany on 2/21.
  • IMN held its annual Fixed Income Investor Network in Las Vegas on 2/24.
  • iMoneyNet held its annual MMExpo in Middleburg, VA 3/4-3/6.
  • PASLA/RMA held its 16thannual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia 3/5-3/7.
  • GIOA held its 15thannual conference in Las Vegas 3/20-3/22.
  • Crane Data held its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Philadelphia on 3/25-3/26.
  • Finadium held its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
  • GFOA held its 113thannual conference in Los Angeles on 5/19-5/22.
  • Securities Lending Timesheldits annual Securities Finance Technology Symposium in London on 5/9.
  • IMN held its annual Global ABS conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/11-6/13.
  • Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Philadelphia, PA on 6/18-6/20.
  • ISLA held its Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Madrid this week.
  • Crane Data held its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26 in Boston.
  • Hedge Fund Association held its Rooftop Social in NYC on 6/27.
  • Worldwide Business Research held its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/17-9/19.
  • IHS Markit in conjunction with Opal Group held a Securities Finance Forum in NYC on 9/17.
  • IMN held its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 9/22-9/24.
  • IMN held its annual European Securities Finance conference in London on 9/25-9/26.
  • Crane Data held its annual European Money Fund Symposium in Dublin, Ireland on 9/23-24.
  • Finadium held its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe in London on 9/24.
  • National Association of State Treasurers held its annual conference in Naples, FL on 10/6-10/9.
  • Worldwide Business Research held its Fixed Income Leaders conference in Barcelona on 10/7-10/9.
  • RMA held its 37thannual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Boca Raton, FL on October 14-17. I saw many of you there/here.  It was my 37thRMA I’ve attended.
  • American Financial Professionals (AFP) held its gigantic annual conference in Boston, MA on 10/20-10/23. I want to go to one of these some time.
  • Finadium held its Rates & Repo conference in New York on 11/4
  • net held its 25thannual Risk USA conference in NYC on November 5-6.
  • SIFMA held its annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 11/18-11/20.

 

 

Federal Reserve News:

 

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 1.50-1.75% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while), after the FOMC lowered it on 7/31/19 and again on 9/18/19 and again on 12/4/19. The Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR), as reported by the Federal Reserve, was 1.88% on 10/1/19.

 

For you youngsters, particularly the ones freaking out about the Fed doing daily RP operations, the Federal Reserve used to not telegraph what it was doing in monetary policy.  It would simply come in (and not on scheduled dates like FOMC meetings) and add or drain reserves by announcing a Customer RP, System RP, or Matched Sales. We would then all scramble, as the market absorbed the news, and try to figure out how much they did and where the Fed Funds rate would settle.

 

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks.  That rate on 10/1/19 was 1.85%.

 

The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is supposed to be a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities.  It is also reported by the NY Fed on its website.  It has been controversial and has been considered as a possible replacement for LIBOR.  SOFR includes trades in the Broad General Collateral Rate of Repo plus bilateral Treasury Repo transactions cleared through the DVP services at CCP FICC, ostensibly filtering out issues trading Special.  However, critics (and I am one) say that it only picks up the Offered Side of Repo (not a median), that it only picks up the small amount of DVP transactions cleared at FICC and Triparty Repo done at Bank of NY, ignoring the growing amount of bilateral (non-Triparty) repo being done peer-to-peer, dealer-to-dealer, and client-to-dealer, outside of FICC.   It is a good representation of where Money Funds (except for a few savvy ones who trade peer-to-peer) are paid on their cash versus US Treasuries in Repo each day by broker/dealers.  It almost completely ignores other sectors, particularly buyside clients with collateral. That all being said, the current SOFR reported by the Fed for 10/1/19 was 1.88%.

 

The next FOMC meetings (and they are all two-day meetings so these are the second day, when they actually announce) are: 1/29/20, 3/18/20, 4/29/20, 6/10/20, 7/29/20, 9/16/20, 11/5/20, and 12/16/20.

 

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight.  Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion?  Well, on 5/15/19, there was only $20 million in bids submitted.  MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market.  So, if RRP is not extinct, it is certainly now dormant, occasionally coming out of hibernation for year-ends and quarter-ends, when liquidity becomes very strange.

 

In December 2018, at the FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

 

12/15/15 to 0.50%

12/14/16 to 0.75%

3/5/17 to 1.00%

6/14/17 to 1.25%

12/13/17 to 1.50%

3/21/18 to 1.75%

6/13/18 to 2.00%

9/26/18 to 2.25%

12/13/18 to 2.50%

 

But, then the Federal Reserve paused.  Suddenly, on 7/31/19, the Fed eased the Fed Funds target rate to 2.25%, and then did another rate cut by 0.25% to 2.00% on 9/17/19. Technically, that rate is the top end of a 25bp rate spread that the Fed considers its current target rate (1.75%-2.00%).  The reversal in monetary policy is expected to continue, with perhaps one more rate cut by the Fed in 2019.  The FOMC actually held an unscheduled meeting on 10/4/19, but did not change monetary policy at that meeting.  But, on 12/11/19, the Fed, somewhat expectedly, lowered the Fed Funds target range to 1.50-1.75%, down another 25bp.

 

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013.  The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE.  In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline.  For reference, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007, at or near the beginning of the Financial Crisis.

 

I personally think the Federal Reserve (and the US Treasury) could use an industry consultant with nearly 37 years of experience in the securities financing market and who has worked extensively in sell-side, buy-side, and vendor firms, giving him/her a unique and neutral perspective.  I know someone like that.

 

Economists say that the Federal Reserve is “super-glued” to its seat until after the Election, after a great labor market report today.  The Fed Beige Book saw a slight pickup in the US economy. Brainard is calling for a major overhaul in how the Fed sets the level of interest rates. Fed’s Powell was upbeat on the US economy and said that low inflation is allowing them to keep low interest rates.  After Wednesday’s FOMC meeting, during which the Fed voted 8-2 to lower the target rate range by another 25bp (mostly expected by the market), Powell signaled a pause in his press conference.

 

 

 

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

 

 

An earthquake in northwestern Albania killed at least 50 people and injured more than 800 others. These are just the earthquakes over the last 3 days!  There have been 43 over the last 30 days. Latest strong earthquakes (5.5 magnitude and above):

 

12/6 5.7 173km NW of Hihofo, Tonga

12/6 6.0 184km WNW of Hihofo, Tonga

12/5 5.6 Mindanao, Philippines

12/5 5.5 Kuril Islands, Russia

12/4 6.0 Vanuatu Islands

12/3 5.5 Kuril Islands, Russia

12/3 6.1 Near coast of Northern Chile

12/2 6.0 60km E of Amatignak Island, Alaska

 

 

 

Weather:

 

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1stand ends November 30th.  For 2018, Colorado State University experts had predicted an above average season of 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 would become Hurricanes.  Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively.  But, there were 15 named Tropical Storms, of which 8 were hurricanes, and 2 of them major.  So, they underestimated.

 

For the 2019 storm season, CSU, which has been the most used, forecast a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes.  It has turned out to be the 4thyear in a row of above-average damaging seasons.  We have already had 18 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.  It has become the 7thyear that there were multiple Category-5 hurricanes in one season.

 

The Hurricane names for the 2019 North Atlantic season are:

 

Andrea-x

Barry-x

Chantal-x

Dorian-x

Erin-x

Fernand-x

Gabrielle-x

Humberto-x

Imelda-x

Jerry-x

Karen-x

Lorenzo-x

Melissa-x

Nestor-x

Olga-x

Pablo-x

Rebekah-x

Sebastian-x

Tanya

Van

Wendy

 

 

The Atlantic basin has no storm activity to currently report.

 

 

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18 and ended 11/1/18.

 

Eastern North Pacific currently has no activity to report.  Central North Pacific currently has no activity to report.

 

 

 

 

As for the weather, Florida finally has moderate temperatures after record heat.  We are in the 70s and going down to 50s at night.  Heavy rain and snow are expected across the country during the peak Thanksgiving travel time. And once the weekend has past, a second storm system will arrive around Tuesday. There are heavy rain warnings for most of New England and for California. Heavy snow could hit from Denver to Minneapolis. There will be other storms with strong winds from Texas to Missouri.

 

 

 

Sports News:      

 

 

MLB:

 

 

The MLB regular season began 3/28 this year and ended on 9/30 (more than 6 months).  The World Series went 7 games, and the Washington Nationals, who were in the Postseason for the first time, beat the Houston Astros, who won the World Series in 2017,  4 games to 3 games.  The cool thing, from my perspective, is that they share the same brand new Spring Training facility right here in West Palm Beach, FL, and I sing the National Anthem for both teams several times during Spring Training. The Red Sox president admitted it will be “difficult” to keep both Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, as the latter had an option for 3 more years and was expected to leave for Free Agency, but surprised management and fans by taking his option and staying with the team.  That leaves Mookie Betts, the former MVP, who has one more year of $20 million salary on his contract and a Red Sox management that says they want to get down to the $208 million salary cap to avoid any more luxury tax.  Analysts speculate that they will probably look to trade Betts, arguably one of their best players in decades.  This Sunday, the Hall of Fame Committee will decide the next class of inductees.  Is it finally going to be time for Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds?  Probably not yet. The Modern Baseball Era ballot features 10 candidates for consideration:

 

Dwight Evans (one of my favorites)

Steve Garvey

Tommy John

Don Mattingly (another favorite of mine)

Marvin Miller

Thurman Munson (beloved)

Dale Murphy

Dave Parker

Ted Simmons

Lou Whitaker

Matt Kelly

 

“Modern Baseball” is one of four rotating eras considered by the Hall of Fame’s Veteran Committee, not the writers.  It evaluates candidates whose primary contributions to baseball came between 1970-87.  The list was compiled by 11 veteran baseball historians.  Now, a 16-member group of veterans will decide.  You need 75% of the vote to get in.

Now, the 2020 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot features 32 candidates.  Results from this vote will be announced on 1/21/20.

 

 

 

Soccer:

 

In Association Football, the Copa Libertadores concludes with Flamengo defeating River Plate in the final.

 

 

Golf:

 

 

At the RSM Classic, Tyler Duncan beat Webb Simpson in a playoff.  Brandon Todd won his second PGA Tour event in as many starts at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Jin Young Ko finished off her dominant LPGA season, by sweeping major season-long awards with here finish Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship. Jon Rahm has risen to world No.3 after the Spaniard left Dubai with a pair of trophies.  Stanford’s men’s golf team and Duke’s women’s golf team visited the White House, for a special ceremony to honor their NCAA Championships.

 

The European Tour unveiled its schedule for 2020 season:

 

  • 11/28-12/1/19 Hong Kong Open
  • 11/28-12/1/19 Alfred Dunhill Championship
  • 12/5-12/8/19 Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open
  • 12/19-12/22/19 Australian PGA Championship
  • 1/9-1/12/20 South African Open
  • 1/16-1/19 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
  • 1/23-1/26 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
  • 1/30-2/2 Saudi International
  • 2/6-2/9 ISPS Handa Vic Open
  • 2/20-2/23 WGC-Mexico Championship
  • 2/27-3/1 Oman Open
  • 3/5-3/8 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
  • 3/12-3/15 Magical Kenya
  • 3/19-3/22 Hero Indian Open
  • 3/25-3/29 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
  • 4/9-4/12 The Masters
  • 4/16-4/19 Maybank Championship
  • 4/23-4/26 Volvo China Open
  • 4/30-5/3 Estrella D. Andalucia Masters
  • 5/9-5/10 GolfSixes Cascals
  • 5/14-5/17 US PGA Championship
  • 5/21-5/24 Made in Denmark
  • 5/28-5/31 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
  • 6/4-6/7 Trophee Hassan II
  • 6/11-6/14Scandinavian Invitation
  • 6/18-6/21 US Open
  • 6/25-6/28 BMW International Open
  • you have to believe that I had no idea this would be so long and that I just wanted to be helpful/informational…
  • 7/2-7/5 Open de France
  • 7/2-7/5 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational
  • 7/9-7/12 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open
  • 7/16-7/19 The 149thOpen (British Open)
  • 7/30-8/2 Betfred British Masters
  • 7/30-8/2 Olympic Men’s Golf Competition
  • 8/6-8/9 UK event
  • 8/20-8/23 D+D Real Czech Masters
  • 8/27-8/30 Omega European Masters
  • 9/3-9/6 Porsche European Open
  • at least I can keep this in the Commentary and just update it for the next year…
  • 9/10-9/13 BMW PGA Championship
  • 9/17-9/20 KLM Open
  • 9/25-9/27 The 2020 Ryder Cup
  • 10/1-10/4 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
  • 10/8-10/11 Italian Open
  • 10/15-10/18 Mutuactivos Open de Espana
  • 10/22-10/25 Portugal Masters
  • 10/29-11/1 WGC-HSC Champions
  • 11/5-11/8 Turkish Airlines Open
  • 11/12-11/15 Nedbank Golf Challenge
  • 11/19-11/22 DP World Tour Championship

 

 

 

 

NFL:

 

The 99thNFL regular season ended with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive battle 13-3 in the Super Bowl.  The 100thNFL season is approaching its 12thweek of the regular season. It has already been remarkable for low-scoring defensive battles, a few blowouts, many missed field goals and points-after, and a remarkable number of starting QB injuries.  It has also featured more than the usual number of bad record/bad teams. Currently, there was one winless team, the Cincinnati Bengals, with several others that are just flailing. However, the Bengals finally got their first victory against the lowly Jets.  This, so far, has been a season that LACKS parity, maybe because of free agency or weird events.  WR Antonio Brown has still not been hired by an NFL team.  WR Josh Gordon did find a new home. Thursday night began Week 14 of the regular season.

 

So, let me tell you what I think about each team, so far.

 

 

AFC East-the Patriots are in first place and 10-2. But, they are doing it with defense, rather than their typical offense.  QB Tom Brady has fewer targets to throw to and worse blocking, which also affects the running game. But, they have found a way to win low-scoring close battles. They stumbled again in a close game with the Texans. The Patriots still have another test upcoming against the Chiefs. The Bills are 1 game behind.  The Dolphins are 3-9.

 

AFC North-the Baltimore Ravens have established themselves with a strong Flacco-less offense, and have a comfortable lead in the Division at 10-2.  They are right up there now with the 49ers and Patriots overall in the NFL, and have bragging rights over the Patriots after beating them. The Bengals are 1-11.

 

AFC South-the Houston Texans, also expected to be stronger, stumbled out of the gate, but are now 8-4 and leading the division, one game over the Colts.  The Jaguars are 4-8.

 

AFC West-the KC Chiefs have become more human, since the beginning of the season and are now 8-4, but lead the Division. The Raiders’ rally failed and they are now 6-6. The Broncos and Chargers are both 4-8, and looking for answers.

 

NFC East-there were high expectations for the Cowboys and the Eagles, and they are currently in first place and second place, respectively.  But, they are 6-7 and 5-7, respectively. The Cowboys were soundly beaten by the Bears last night. The Giants are 2-10.  Rumors are swirling that former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer may become the Cowboys next coach.

 

NFC North-the Packers have been surprisingly strong and looked like they were going to run away with the division again.  But they had a loss to their rival Vikings.  They also just faltered against the 49ers. So, the Vikings are one game behind the 9-3 Packers. The Lions are 3-8-1, and just hard to watch.

 

NFC South-the Saints have QB Drew Brees back from injury and lead the division comfortably at 10-2, but they did lose to their rival (1-7) Falcons, which you don’t expect from a then 7-1 team. Everyone else is underperforming in this division.  The Falcons are 3-9.  The Panthers fired coach Ron Rivera.

 

NFC West-the 49ers have become the real deal, rebuilding in just 2 years, undefeated up until two weeks ago, when they lost in OT to the Seahawks. Even with the loss, the 49ers are 10-2.  The Seahawks are also now 10-2 and have the upper hand, having beaten the 49ers. The Cardinals are 3-8-1.

 

 

 

We had our annual feast of 3 NFL games on Thanksgiving Day!  And if you wanted to ask me whether the Cleveland Brown who clubbed the Pittsburgh Steeler QB with his own helmet, after ripping it off of his head, should be banned for life, I would say ‘yes’.

 

 

NCAA Football:

 

We have now played 15 weeks of the 15-week regular season.  It was really weird starting out without Alabama on top of the AP Top 25 poll, where they perennially start at No.1.  But, since Clemson won the BCS National Championship last year, they were No.1 to start the season.  However, Alabama climbed back there at No.1 again.  However, keeping Heisman Trophy candidate QB Tua in a lopsided victory, cost them dearly, ending his season and maybe his career. Subsequently, they faltered and fell out of the BCS College Playoff picture.  Some serious excitement already, especially with news of California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, which will allow college athletes to be paid for endorsements (profiting off their name, image, and likeness), sell autographs and merchandise, accept endorsement deals, and hire agents, starting in 2023. Maybe the most important/profitable part will be that they can sell their image to appear in a college sports video game.  The last licensed college football video game came out in 2013.  The last licensed college basketball video game came out in 2009.  We are watching conference championship games this weekend, and then the NCAA will sort out the dozens of bowl games.

 

The current AP Top 25 Poll:

  1. Ohio State 12-0
  2. LSU 12-0
  3. Clemson 12-0
  4. Georgia 11-1
  5. Utah 11-1
  6. Oklahoma 11-1
  7. Baylor 11-1
  8. Wisconsin 10-2
  9. Florida 10-2
  10. Penn State 10-2
  11. Auburn 9-3
  12. Alabama 10-2
  13. Oregon 10-2
  14. Michigan 9-
  15. Notre Dame 10-2
  16. Iowa 9-3
  17. Memphis 11-1
  18. Minnesota 10-2
  19. Boise State 11-1
  20. Cincinnati 10-2
  21. Appalachian State 11-1
  22. USC 8-4
  23. Virginia 9-3
  24. Navy 9-2
  25. Oklahoma State 8-4

 

 

 

 

NCAA Basketball

 

The college basketball season tipped off, with No.1 Michigan State facing No.2 Kentucky and losing by 5 points. It’s like déjà vu all over again, as this seems to be MSU’s recipe every year, playing a Top 3 team and losing by 5 points. Coach Izzo thinks this prepares his guys for March Madness and they won’t fear these teams when they face them.  I don’t know if I agree, although his record speaks for itself.  What I see is that they lose and plummet in the rankings. They just lost to Duke, another brutal opponent. To add insult to injury, rivals Michigan and Ohio State are now ranked above MSU.  Here is the current AP Top 25 in this young (7 games) season:

 

  1. Louisville
  2. Kansas
  3. Maryland
  4. Michigan
  5. Virginia
  6. Ohio State
  7. UNC
  8. Kentucky
  9. Gonzaga
  10. Duke
  11. Michigan State
  12. Arizona
  13. Oregon
  14. Auburn
  15. Memphis
  16. Seton Hall
  17. Florida State
  18. Baylor
  19. Dayton
  20. Colorado
  21. Tennessee
  22. Washington
  23. Villanova
  24. Butler
  25. Utah State

 

 

 

NHL:

 

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some of the 31 teams, on 10/3/18. It ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Bruins 4-3 in the Finals.  The Blues were in last place in their division in January and wound up winning it all. The Blues gave their superfan, Laila Anderson, a Stanley Cup championship ring.

 

This season began 10/2/19. The Bruins and Blues started out this season how they ended last season, currently with the best records in this young season. Toronto’s Alexander Kerfoot was suspended 2 games for violent cross-check on Erick Johnson.  Speaking of the Maple Leafs, they already fired their coach, Mike Babcock. Sheldon Keefe is now the coach of the Maple Leafs. Calgary Flames’ GM Brad Treliving blames himself for his team’s woes. Bruins’ David Backes is back after 3 weeks on disabled list after a scary collision.  Predators’ Vikto Arvidsson will be out 4-6 weeks with an injury. Blues’ Robert Bortuzzo has been suspended 4 games for cross-checking. Lightning’s star Steven Stamkos is out with a lower body injury.

 

I know that the season is 82 games, followed by a seemingly endless playoff that should end in May, but here are the current/early standings. In the Eastern Conference: in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins are in first with a smoking 20-3-6 record (2ndbest in NHL), with the surprising Panthers in second; in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals are in first with a 21-4-5 record (best in the NHL), followed by the surprising Islanders in second. In the Western Conference: in the Central Division, the Stanley Cup Champion Blues are in first place at 18-6-6, followed by the surprising Avalanche in close second at 18-8-2 and the Jets in third with 17-10-2 record; in the Pacific Division, the shocking Coyotes (one of or the worst teams in NHL for past several seasons) lead with a 17-9-4 record, followed closely in second by the surprising Oilers 17-10-3.  I notice some names doing well (Panthers, Islanders, Coyotes, Oilers) who have not been on the leader board in a long time.  A bizarre Hurricanes goal was overturned due to broken netting. Penguins star Sidney Crosby will be out six weeks with and injury.  Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin will be out indefinitely. Leafs Andreas Johnsson and gone on IR. The World Junior Championship 2020 has announced its schedule. The Devils fired coach John Hynes.  Alaine Nasreddine has been named interim coach.

 

 

 

 

NBA:

 

The NBA season officially began on 10/3/18 as well. It officially ended with the underdogs, the Toronto Raptors, ousting the favorite Golden State Warriors in six games. This year, the NBA season did not start until 10/22/19. The Rockets will file a protest of Spurs loss, citing James Harden dunk in time, which refs agreed with after the game. This could be the only game I’ve ever seen in the 4 professional team sports in the US, in which a victory could be overturned. I’m leaving out the Pine Tar game between Yankees and Royals, as well as the Black Sox scandal. Carmelo Anthony’s Trail Blazers contract will become fully guaranteed, according to reports. College phenom, Zion Williamson is still out with an injury.  The Raptors are interested in Cavs forward Tristan Thompson. The Bucks and Lakers (both surprises to me) are looking like championship contenders here early in the 82-game season. The Celtics lead the Atlantic Division, the Bucks lead the Central Division, the Heat lead the Southeast Division, the Nuggets lead the Northwest Division, the Lakers lead the Pacific Division, and the Mavericks lead the Southeast Division.

 

 

 

Olympics:

 

US Olympian Lindsey Vonn said, “nothing in my final season with the way I’d hoped.”

 

 

 

Tennis:

 

 

A new Davis Cup format will bring out a new Rafael Nadal in Madrid. A Federer-Zverev exhibition match in Mexico City, over the weekend, broke the record for the largest tennis crowd ever, 42,517 fans.

 

 

 

 

Horse Racing:

 

 

The Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council has voted to support partial Lasix use, which is a reversal of their previous position. Bodexpress is leading the list of late-developing 3-year-olds. Del Mar horse racing has been cancelled on Thanksgiving Day, because of weather forecasted there. Dennis’ Moment is an early favorite for the 2020 Kentucky Derby.

 

 

Racing:

 

 

Last year’s champion, his first, for the NASCAR Cup Series was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead.  Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017.  The 2019 regular season has just completed and the Playoffs are in full gear.  Here is the complete schedule of races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2019 and the results:

 

2/17 Daytona 500, won by Denny Hamlin

2/24 Atlanta, QuickTrip 500, won by Brad Keselowski

3/3 Las Vegas-Joey Logano

3/10 ISM Raceway-Kyle Busch

3/17 Auto Club-Kyle Busch

3/24 Martinsville-Brad Keselowski

3/31 Texas-Denny Hamlin

4/7 Bristol-Kyle Busch

4/13 Richmond-Martin Truex Jr.

4/28 Talladega-Chase Elliott

5/5 Dover-won by Martin Truex Jr.

5/11 Kansas-won by Brad Keselowski

5/18 All-Star Open Charlotte-won by Austin Dillon

5/26 Charlotte, Coca-Cola 600-won by Martin Truex Jr.

6/2 Pocono, Pocono 400-won by Kyle Busch

6/9 Michigan, Firekeepers Casino 400-won by Joey Logano

6/23 Sonoma, Save Mart 350-won by Martin Truex Jr.

6/30 Chicago, Camping World 400-won by Alex Bowman

7/7 Daytona, Coke Zero 400-won by Austin Haley

7/13 Kentucky, Quaker State 400-won by Kurt Busch

7/21 New Hampshire, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-won by Kevin Harvick

7/28 Pocono, Gander RV 400-Denny Hamlin

8/4 Watkins Glen, GoBowling at The Glen-Chase Elliott

8/11 Michigan, Consumers Energy 400-Kevin Harvick

8/17 Bristol, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Denny Hamlin

9/1 Darlington, Bojangles’ Southern 500-Erik Jones

9/8 Indianapolis, Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard-Kevin Harvick

9/15 Las Vegas playoff-South Point 400-Martin Truex, Jr.

9/21 Richmond playoff-Martin Truex, Jr.

9/29 Charlotte playoff-Chase Elliott

10/6 Dover playoff-Kyle Larson

10/13 Talladega playoff-Ryan Blaney

10/20 Kansas playoff-Denny Hamlin

10/27 Martinsville playoff-Martin Truex Jr.

11/3 Texas playoff-Kevin Harvick

11/10 ISM Raceway playoff-Denny Hamlin

11/17 Miami-Homestead final playoff-Kyle Busch

 

The NASCAR Cup Series concluded, with Kyle Busch winning the championship. Jimmie Johnson, 7-time NASCAR Champion, has announced his last full-time season will be 2020.  He began his career in 2001.  Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have saluted Johnson, as other drivers also react to the news. NASCAR racing begins again 2/9/2020 with The Clash.

 

 

 

Formula One began with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari.  That was followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule 2/18-2/21 and 2/26-3/1, both in Catalunya, Spain.  Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar and results (it might be easier to just say which races were not won by Lewis Hamilton):

 

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne-won by V. Bottas

3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by Lewis Hamilton

4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000thGrand Prix)-won by Lewis Hamilton

4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas

5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by Lewis Hamilton

5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by Lewis Hamilton

6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by Lewis Hamilton

6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet-won by Lewis Hamilton

6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg-won by Max Verstappen

7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone-won by Lewis Hamilton

7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim-won by Max Verstappen

8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest-Lewis Hamilton

9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa-Charles Leclerc

9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza-Charles Leclerc

9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore-Sebastian Vettel

9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi-Lewis Hamilton

10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka-V. Bottas

10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City-Lewis Hamilton

11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX-V. Bottas

11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo-M. Verstappen

12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

 

Here is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar and results (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars).  The season just ended, with Josef Newgarden coming in 8thin the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for championship:

 

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg-Josef Newgarden

3/24 Circuit of the Americas-Colton Herta

4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama-Takuma Sato

4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach-Alexander Rossi

5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis-Simon Pagenaud

5/26 Indianapolis 500-Simon Pagenaud

6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1-Josef Newgarden

6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2-Scott Dixon

6/8 Texas Grand Prix-Josef Newgarden

6/23 Road America-Alexander Rossi

7/14 Honda Indy Toronto-Simon Pagenaud

7/20 Iowa 300-Josef Newgarden

7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio-Scott Dixon

8/18 Pocono Grand Prix-Will Power (I love that name!)

8/24 Gateway Grand Prix-Takuma Sato

9/1 Grand Prix of Portland-Will Power (that’s all it takes)

9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca-Colton Herta

 

 

Travel News:

 

 

LAX is preparing the expected heavy traveler traffic for Thanksgiving holiday, by providing free public transportation during the holidays.  Thousands of Venetians gathered to protest Cruise ships, after historic flooding. Tyler Perry is helping the American couple held “hostage” in Mexican hospital, by paying their $14,000 bill. You can now rent a cabin designed by Matthew McConaughey in Australia.  This Sunday is “Small Brewery Sunday” which celebrates craft beer. Thousands of passengers were delayed up to 24 hours, due to British Airways technical glitch. Cities around the world are cracking down on E-Scooters.

Frontier Airlines accidentally sent an email saying thousands of flights were cancelled. As the 2019 model year closes, 10 popular cars will be discontinued, so it’s ‘last call’: Volkswagen Beetle, Cadillac CTS, Ford Taurus, Chevrolet Volt, Cadillac ATS Coupe, Lincoln MKT, Volkswagen Gulf SportWagen, Buick Cascada, Chevrolet Cruze, and Ford Fiesta. You may have heard a lot of positive news about our new luxury train service here in Florida, Brightline, which was purchased recently by Richard Branson and Virgin Atlantic.  It’s a phenomenal way to get around down here at 85mph and beating traffic! It currently runs from West Palm Beach to a station in Fort Lauderdale and another station in Miami.  They are adding a station at the cruise ship piers in Miami and are negotiating with the city of Boca Raton to build a station there. They also have begun expansion to Orlando.  Not all the news has been positive, however.  The AP, looking at 821 railroads, named Brightline as the deadliest rail service (the worst per-mile death rate) in the US, due to 40 deaths on this short route in its 2 years.  The company noted that 21 of the deaths were suicides, in which the person deliberately ran out on the track.  So, the company is dealing with this problem, by educating the public, putting up better warnings and barriers, and looking into preventive measures along the track. They have announced a participation in a campaign to prevent suicides by train. Florida has just committed $60 million in bid to curb railroad crossing deaths.  This is another issue entirely, as motorists try to beat trains at railroad crossings. There are 17 electric vehicles hitting the market in 2019-20. A German WWI wreck has been discovered off the Falklands.

 

 

 

Health News:

 

 

A new study says that 1 in 8 people with heart conditions avoid or ration meds due to the high cost. Experts are saying it’s important to treat obesity in teenage years, before the health issues become worse in adulthood. Experts say that pellet and other types of toy guns are more powerful than they used to be and that people must wear protective eye gear. There are a number of reasons why children also need to take mental health days, including performance pressure and family trauma. Flu activity continues to increase across the country (I got the shot in September).  Already, there have been five pediatric deaths and number of mortalities amongst older adults. There are now estimated to be over 10,000 mental health apps available offering mental therapy. People who have experienced what they claim are serious eye problems after getting LASIK surgery have formed groups to get the word out on the procedure. A former official at the FDA says LASIK surgery should be taken off the market because of post-operation complications. However, current FDA officials say less than 1% of people who have LASIK surgery have long-term consequences. An update on the vaping lung disease, over 2,200 cases have been reported.  Products containing THC, the compound in cannabis that produces a “high”, remain the leading culprit, particularly those obtained off the street. Experts are now saying the best protection against measles for infants is for everyone around them to be vaccinated, as measles immunity for infants may only last 3 months, not 1 year. Maybe you have heard of “Dopamine fasting”? Apparently, it’s popular in Silicon Valley, with some people in the area striving to reset their dopamine levels by completely abstaining from anything that would be pleasurable. Fasters believe that the more we’re exposed to the exhilaration of dopamine, the more we will need to pursue higher levels of stimulation to get the same effect. In a sense, they believe the brain will reset and restore itself. Some experts say that the science doesn’t work quite that way. Global food prices have climbed to a two-year high, as African swine fever is being felt in pig herds in China.  A 34-year-old British woman is alive and well after her heart stopped for 6 hours. A 16-year-old with the flue, who died in Border Patrol custody, was reportedly collapsed on floor in pool of blood for several hours. Cannabis stocks’ prices have gone up in smoke.  The 2019 slide shows little signs of easing. Did you know that Seltzer and Club Soda are not the same thing? One has minerals and carbon added during processing.  The world’s “first male birth control shot” is debuting.  More than 140,000 people died from measles last year, as the number of cases has surged once again globally.  Most of the tragedies occurred to children under age 5. In 2018, the UK, Albania, Czech Republic, and Greece lost their measles elimination status.  The US is now reporting the highest number of cases in 25 years.  There are large outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, and Ukraine. Samoa has declared a state of emergency and forcing unvaccinated families to hang red flags outside their homes.

 

 

 

Animal News:

 

 

Japan’s oldest elephant died after spending 60 years alone in an enclosure devoid of grass, trees, or other elephants.  Many Australian birds have been displaced by the bush fires there. The Australian forest fires may have claimed as many as 350 koalas, according to wildlife officials.  A dream job in London has just become available.  For $38,000, they would like a candidate to live and take care of a six-story townhouse in the upscale London neighborhood of Kensington, while also watching two beautiful golden retrievers. The person would be sort-of full-time caretaker, housekeeper, and sometimes vegan cook, according to the listing with Silver Swan Recruitment. There is a Mexican forest which turns orange every Fall because of Monarch butterflies.  President Trump signed into law yesterday an anti-cruelty to animals ban, which makes animal cruelty a Federal felony now. A Florida man’s dog put his car in reverse and managed to circle a cul-de-sac for an hour. Given that it was Florida, I wonder if he had his left turn signal on for the entire time! A cat lost in Oregon was found in New Mexico. Some health labs are now looking into using up to 10,000 old dogs for research. A tiny deer-like species has been spotted for the first time in 30 years. An orangutan was granted “personhood” legally.  It has relocated to Florida. The FDA approved cheaper meds for dogs with separation anxiety.  A

California man who stole a lemur from zoo has been sentenced to 3 months in prison. President Trump has just honored at the White House the military ‘hero dog’ (Conan) injured in the ISIS al-Baghdadi raid by US military. Wild hogs killed a Texas woman, according Sheriff.

 

 

Entertainment News:

 

 

Today show host, Hoda Kotb, shocked viewers by announcing that she had just gotten engaged to boyfriend of 6 years.  A former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, is suing Fox News over an alleged Trump tryst story. Jason Derulo responded to Instagram banning his underwear photo. Jennifer Garner accidentally bought a truly massive Christmas tree.  I wonder if she has the same Amazon Prime affliction I have?  John Travolta just gave an interview about the night he danced with Princess Diana, which was orchestrated by Nancy Reagan. Quibi has partnered with Comedy Central on “Reno 911!” revival. Harvey Weinstein, clutching a cane and looking enfeebled, appeared in Court ahead of his rape trial. Kanye West announced a new opera, “Mary”, his second, to premiere in Miami this weekend. I’ve got to get Netflix (not the stock, the channel), as THE IRISHMAN garnered 17.1 million US viewers on Netflix in the first 5 days, according Nielsen. Radio host Delilah, known for her counseling and love songs during her radio show (which I think sometimes have been actually depressing) is talking on The Dr. Oz Show about overcoming feelings of “rage” following the deaths of her two sons.  Her 12-year-old son died from complications of sickle cell anemia and her 18-year-old son committed suicide recently. Taylor Swift had dropped a new holiday song, “Christmas Tree Farm” and a music video with home footage. Jeff Goldblum hijacked Jeopardy! Category and Twitter went nuts Thursday.  He apparently was giving video clues to questions. Speaking of the show, host Alex Trabek is saying that he will continue to host until the cancer treatments make him less than perfect as host.  Pink! Has shared a photo of her new buzzed head, after shaving off all her hair. R. Kelly has been charged with bribing government employee to marry 15-year-old Aaliyah.  Country music star John Rich has joined Fox Nation. Supposedly, a tarot card reading given to Mick Jagger predicted the Rolling Stones’ Altamont disaster exactly 50 years ago. Darlene Love says she was “snubbed” by producers of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting.  The annual event was broadcast live on Wednesday night on NBC. Justin Timberlake issued a public apology to his wife, Jessica Biel, and son after he was photographed holding hands with his co-star Alisha Wainwright.  Hugh Grant posted his infamous 1995 mug shot to shut down people trolling him. Julianne Hough is commending Gabrielle Union for “speaking her truth” about America’s Got Talentalleged bad treatment, when her contract was not renewed.  Former AGTjudge, Howard Stern, fanned the flames of the controversy himself, calling out Simon Cowell and producers.  Maggie Smith says her DOWNTON ABBEY and HARRY POTTER roles weren’t “satisfying”. The official MULAN trailer has won positive reviews, but is not quelling the controversy surrounding Disney’s live-action remake. Tom Hanks $18,675 Scion Xb.  Really? The guy has been in a ton of blockbusters, although I wouldn’t travel with him (or his characters).  Sylvester Stallone drives a $166,000 Mercedes-Benz G550. Jason Momoa drives a $16,070 Cadillac. Celine Dion drives a $500,000 Maybach G2.  Bradley Cooper drives a $220,000 Mercedes-Benz G500.  John Cena drives a $300,000(?) Chevrolet Camaro.  He actually has 23 customized American muscle cars. Julia Roberts drives a $53,000 Mercedes-Benz GI320. Guy Fieri drives a $166,000 Chevrolet Chevelle.  I thought the restored SS Camaro that he drives on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives was his car?  I love that show!  Paris Hilton drives a $285,000 Bentley GT Continental. 89-year old Clint Eastwood revealed that he drives a $25,000 1974 Ford truck.  I wonder if that was his truck in the MULE movies? By the way, he is only worth about $375 million.

 

 

 

At Disneyworld, on the new STAR WARS ride, passengers were stranded when, on opening day, the ride broke down. In related news, Disneyworld says that the immersive STAR WARS experience, that just opened in California’s Disneyland location, will open at Florida’s Disneyworld in 2021.

 

This weekend broke Thanksgiving Day records.  Disney scored once again.  I haven’t heard the song yet for this one, but if it’s like the last one, I’ll be hearing it constantly for about 2 years.  FROZEN II delivered all that it was expected to, breaking the 3-day ($85.2 million) and 5-day ($123.7 million) Thanksgiving weekend box-office records, with a 10-day total of $287 million in US and $739 million globally, and a debut at No.1.  That 10-day total was only topped by INCREDIBLES 2.  Amazingly, the film is already the 17thhighest grossing animated film ever, and it just came out. But it wasn’t all just a small world after all, as Lionsgate’s KNIVES OUT murder mystery exceeded expectations with a 5-day total of $41.7 million. This movie, which looks a little like a star-studded mash-up of THE ORIENT EXPRESS and the board game “Clue”, received an A- from always critical CinemaScore and an 8.1 out of 10 rating by IMDb.  Fox’s FORD V FERRARI continues to show horsepower, coming in at No.3 in its 2ndweek with $13.2 million (3-day) and $19 million (5-day) (total gross now $81 million).  No.4 was Sony’s A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, with an estimated $11.8 million (3-day) and $15.8 million (5-day).  No.5 was Universal’s QUEEN & SLIM with $11.7 million (3-day) and $15.8 million (5-day. This film also received an A- from CinemaScore.

 

This weekend has only one wide release in the animated PLAYMOBIL.

 

 

Technology & Space News:

 

 

Uber lost its London license over passenger safety concerns. Uber announced that more than 3,000 sexual assaults occurred during rides in the US in 2018. Analysts say the best deals this holiday weekend (Black Friday, Cyber Monday) weren’t on electronics and clothes. Russian hacking group, Evil Corp, members are living an absurdly lavish lifestyle, complete with baby lions, stacks of cash, and Lamborghinis. Two Russian hackers are thought to be the “most prolific cybercriminals”, as they have ben charged with stealing $70 million. Astrophysicists think there’s a black hole in our solar system. Jeff Bezos now has 3 women in his elite S-Team executive squad, although they are still massively outnumbered by 19 men. Best Buy stock jumped on Earnings news, but failed to hold the level.

 

 

US News:

 

 

The impeachment inquiry into President Trump continues. Schiff says the evidence from the impeachment hearings is “overwhelming”. The California Democrat wouldn’t “foreclose the possibility” of calling more witnesses.  The attorney for an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani said his client was willing to tell Congress that Nunes met with Shokin of Ukraine about investigating the Bidens. Nunes dodged questions about reports that he met with Shokin. The Supreme Court blocked a subpoena for President Trump’s financial records. A judge has ruled that Don McGahn must testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Giulani is blasting the impeachment inquiry. House Democrats will draft impeachment charges against President Trump.  Nancy Pelosi said that the President has “left the House no choice.”  In related news, President Trump supposedly spoke with Rudy Giuliani on unsecured cellphone lines that were likely tapped by Russia spies. In other political news, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has thrown his hat in the ring for 2020 Presidential race. It is not his first Presidential rodeo. There was an airspace violation in Washington, DC that put the White House on temporary lockdown. After 36 years in prison, 3 men were cleared in death of a Baltimore teenager. A Chicago man has been charged with strangling college student in campus garage.  Financial Times reported that two-thirds of American citizens are not feeling the benefit of the Wall Street markets’ rally. The Feds announced that they had arrested more than 60 Latin Kings members along the US East coast.

 

International News:

 

I have to say, I’m surprised, maybe at how naïve I have been, to think that Russia, since 1991 and the Soviet Union broke up, has continued the Cold War-type spies, tapping and intrigue, along with newer cyber hacking.  In Hong Kong, the pro-democracy camp won control of 17 of the 18 district councils in local elections. Amid protests against fuel rationing and price hikes in Iran, dozens of protesters were killed and the government restricted access to the Internet. Pope Francis has made an historic trip to Japan.  Queen Elizabeth has fired her son, Prince Andrew, from all royal duties and his approximately $300,000/year salary. She also just cancelled his birthday celebration.  All of this stems from the blowback due to his poor handling of an interview on TV regarding his relationship with accused sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein. Leaked documents are showing a chilling look inside Chinese detention camps. The Power of Siberia pipeline began operations, delivering Russian natural gas to China. In Iraq, PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi resigned amidst ongoing protests. Luis Lacalle Pou of the National Party was elected President of Uruguay. Angela Merkel said we must remember Nazi crimes and expressed Germany’s “deep shame” on her first trip to the Auschwitz death camp.  Firefighters are battling to contain a “mega blaze” 60 km long north of Sydney, saying it is “too big to put out”.  Protesters are putting pressure on Madrid climate talks, with about 500,000 people assembled outside the UN negotiations. Police kill suspects in India vet rape-murder case. An Indian woman was shot for “pausing dance” at wedding.

 

Florida:

 

 

 

 

There have been several high-profile killings in Florida over the past week.  Last night, 2 armed men carjacked a UPS truck and wound up in a shootout with police right in the middle of I-95. The 2 thieves, the UPS driver, and a bystander were all shot and killed.  It turns out that the 2 robbers were freed from prison in 2017. In Pensacola, today, an armed Saudi student opened fire on a Naval Air Station base, killing three people in a classroom, before killing himself.  It was the second shooting at a US Navy base this week.  President Trump will be in Broward County this weekend, at Miami’s Turnberry.

 

I am usually singing a National Anthem, singing in my 6-part harmony group Generation Gap, and/or doing an Elvis Presley gig, each week here in Palm Beach County, FL. I think I had 3 gigs this week and more to come, and I did finally break down and buy a performance wig, because of the receding grey hair.  However, if you were inclined to see much more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there were many acts which came to Florida this year, perhaps when you were visiting (I should be getting updated schedules for each venue soon for Q4 and 2020):

 

 

 

The Temptations-Fort Lauderdale, January 31

Don McLean-Immokalee, January 31

Michael Bolton-Fort Lauderdale, February 2

The Four Tops and the Temptations-West Palm Beach, February 2

Melissa Manchester-Aventura, February 8

Michael Bolton-West Palm Beach, February 8

The Commodores-Miami, February 9

Patti LaBelle-Fort Myers, February 11

Duran Duran-Miami Beach, February 12

Franki Valli & the Four Seasons, Hollywood, February 14

Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14

Dave Mason-Fort Lauderdale, February 15

Little River Band-Fort Myers, February 15

Michael Buble-Sunrise, February 16 (I would like to go)

Alan Parsons Project-Fort Lauderdale, February 18

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes-Bonita Springs, February 20

Art Garfunkel-Fort Lauderdale, February 20

Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20

Sarah Brightman-Hollywood, February 20

PGA Honda Classic-PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, February 28-March 2

Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (it was fantastic!)

Sara Mclachlan-March 1, West Palm Beach

Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4

Elton John-Sunrise, March 16

Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band-Sunrise, March 17

Steve Miller Band-Hollywood, March 17

Tony Bennett-Miami, March 21

Palm Beach International Boat Show-West Palm Beach, March 28-March 31

Jackson Browne-West Palm Beach, April 3

Abba The Concert-Miami Beach, April 4

The Rolling Stones-Miami, April 20

Whitesnake-Fort Lauderdale, April 25

Slayer-West Palm Beach, May 11

Rascal Flatts-West Palm Beach, May 23

Ariana Grande-Orlando, May 29

Ozzie Osbourne & Megadeth-Sunrise, May 31

Hootie & the Blowfish-West Palm Beach, June 8

Florence and The Machine-Miami, June 9

Train & Goo Goo Dolls-West Palm Beach, July 6

Hugh Jackman-Sunrise, July 6

Jeff Lynnes’ Electric Light Orchestra-Sunrise, July 9

New Kids on the Block, Salt N Pepa, Naughty by Nature-Sunrise, July 14

Iron Maiden-Sunrise, July 18

Dave Matthews Band-West Palm Beach, July 26

Jennifer Lopez-Miami, July 26

Korn & Alice in Chains-West Palm Beach, July 28

Shawn Mendes-Miami, July 28

Queen & Adam Lambert-Sunrise, August 17

Florida Georgia Line-West Palm Beach, August 29

Peter Frampton-West Palm Beach, September 6

Dane Cook-Fort Lauderdale, September 28

 

Repo Commentary-10/4/19

Repo Commentary-10/4/19

IMG_3969IMG_3970IMG_3973IMG_3978IMG_3979IMG_3968IMG_3967IMG_3966IMG_3964IMG_3961IMG_3960IMG_3959IMG_3942IMG_3945IMG_3946IMG_3948IMG_3951IMG_3952IMG_3954IMG_3955IMG_3956IMG_3923IMG_3922IMG_3915IMG_3913IMG_3912IMG_3911IMG_3910IMG_3908IMG_3906IMG_3904IMG_3903IMG_3892IMG_3934

No, I am NOT retired. I will be seeing many of you here in Boca Raton, FL at the RMA Conference in October. It is currently in the upper 80s, very windy, and quite humid, but sunny. My name may pop a few times in the news, prior to the conference. They couldn’t find any Repo expert old enough to know how the Repo market was ‘back in the days’ and who could explain why there has been so much volatility in (something that happens about every decade, according to my good friend and colleague/partner from MS).

Meanwhile, did Summer really go by that fast? I remember speaking to a really smart quant one time in, I don’t know, maybe Newport Beach, CA, and he said that “the velocity of time increases with age.” I don’t know if he was just right or he somehow cursed me, but every season is faster than the last year and every year is faster than the prior ten years! Or, so it seems. I know y’all (I am now a Floridian) in places like Maine or the UP have a brief week or two between Winter and, well Winter.

My Repo Commentary is posted free (it’s actually always been free) on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I’m trying to make it more frequent, but I’ve been swamped.

If you need to reach me, my mobile is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures! I’ll let you in on a secret that I got some of my Redneck Friday photos from a few State Treasurers’ offices. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time. As many of you know, it used to be a daily Repo Commentary back in the 80s and for a long time. But, then again, I used to be younger. I don’t know how I typed this by hand (still do) every single day (and didn’t get fired) and even re-wrote some 200 song lyrics to current market activity.

Holidays or Events (10/3):

¥ Bring Your Bible to School Day
¥ Look at the Leaves Day
¥ National Butterfly and Hummingbird Day
¥ National Boyfriend Day
¥ National Caramel Custard Day
¥ Mean Girls Appreciation Day (a weird social media celebration of the film)
¥ National Poetry Day
¥ National Techies Day
¥ National Virus Appreciation Day
¥ German Unity Day (in Germany)
¥ Morazan Day in Honduras
¥ National Day (independence of Iraq from the UK)
¥ National Foundation Day (South Korea)

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Monday (9/29-10/1) was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (Head of the Year). Next week (10/8-10/9) is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

Some Famous People Born on 10/3 in History:

¥ 85 BC- Gaius Cassius Longinus- Roman politician (died at age 43
¥ 1900-Thomas Wolfe-American novelist
¥ 1925-Gore Vidal-American novelist
¥ 1925-George Wein-American pianist/producer, co-founded Newport Folk Festival
¥ 1938-Eddie Cochran-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor
¥ 1940-Jean Ratelle-Canadian hockey player and coach
¥ 1941-Chubby Checker-American singer-songwriter
¥ 1946-P.P. Arnold-American soul singer
¥ 1947-Ben Cauley-American trumpet player and songwriter
¥ 1947-Fred DeLuca-American businessman, co-founded Subway
¥ 1949-Lindsey Buckingham-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer
¥ 1951-Keb’ Mo-American blues musician and songwriter
¥ 1951-Kathryn D. Sullivan-American geologist and astronaut
¥ 1951-Dave Winfield-MLB player and sportscaster
¥ 1954-Dennis Eckersley-MLB player and sportscaster
¥ 1954-Al Sharpton-American minister, talks show host, political activist
¥ 1954-Stevie Ray Vaughan-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer
¥ 1959-Fred Couples-American golfer
¥ 1959-Jack Wagner-American actor and singer
¥ 1962-Tommy Lee-Greek-American singer-songwriter, drummer, and producer
¥ 1964-Clive Owen-English actor
¥ 1969-Gwen Stefani-American singer-songwriter, actress, fashion designer
¥ 1969-Tetsuya-Japanese singer-songwriter, bass player, and producer
¥ 1970-Jimmy Ray-English singer-songwriter and guitarist
¥ 1971-Wil Cordero-Puerto Rican-American MLB player and coach
¥ 1971-Kevin Richardson-American singer-songwriter and actor
¥ 1973-Neve Campbell-Canadian actress and producer
¥ 1973-Lena Headey-British actress
¥ 1984-Ashlee Simpson-American singer-songwriter and actress

This Day in History (10/3):

¥ 2457 BC- Gaecheonjeol, Hwanung purportedly descended from Heaven, celebrated as South Korea’s National Foundation Day.
• 52 BC-Vercingetorix, leader of the Gauls, surrenders to the Romans under Julius Caesar, ending the siege and battle of Alesia.
¥ 42 BC-Triumvirs Mark Antony and Octavian fight a decisive battle with Caesar’s assassins Brutus and Cassius.
¥ 382-Roman Emperor Theodosius I concludes a peace treaty with the Goths and settles them in the Balkans.
¥ 1283-Dafydd ap Gruffydd, prince of Gwynedd in Wales, is the first nobleman to be executed by hanging, drawing and quartering.
¥ 1683-Qing dynasty naval commander Shi Lang receives the surrender of the Tungning kingdom on Taiwan after the Battle of Penghu.
¥ 1712-the Treaty of Nis is signed by the Ottoman Empire and Russia at the end of the Russian-Turkish War.
¥ 1789-George Washington declares a Thanksgiving Day for that year.
¥ 1795-Slave rebel leader Tula is executed in Curacao.
¥ 1863-the last Thursday in November is declared as the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day by US President Abraham Lincoln.
¥ 1873-Chief Kintpuash and companions are hanged for their part in the Modoc War of northern California.
¥ 1912-US forces defeat Nicaraguan rebels at the Battle of Coyotepe Hill.
¥ 1918-King Boris III of Bulgaria accedes to the throne.
¥ 1919-Cincinnati Reds pitcher Adolfo Luque becomes the first Latin player to appear in the World Series.
¥ 1929-the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes is renamed as Yugoslavia.
¥ 1932-Iraq gains independence from the United Kingdom.
¥ 1935-Second Italo-Abyssinian War: Italy invades Ethiopia.
¥ 1943-World War II: German forces murder 92 civilians in Lyngiades, Greece.
¥ 1949-WERD, the first black-owned radio station in the US, opens in Atlanta.
¥ 1951-Korean War: the First Battle of Maryang San pits Commonwealth troops against communist Chinese troops.
¥ 1952-the UK successfully tests a nuclear weapon to become the world’s third nuclear power.
¥ 1963-a violent coup in Honduras begins two decades of military rule.
¥ 1978-a Finnish Air Force DC-3 crashes, killing all aboard (12 VIP passengers and 3 crew).
¥ 1981-the hunger strike at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland ends after 7 months and 10 deaths.
¥ 1985-the Space Shuttle Atlantis makes its maiden flight.
¥ 1990-the German Democratic Republic is abolished and becomes part of the Federal Republic of Germany.
¥ 1993-an American attack against a warlord in Mogadishu fails. 18 attackers and over 350 Somalis die.
¥ 2008-the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 for the US financial system is signed by President George W. Bush.
¥ 2009-Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgzstan, and Turkey join together in the Turkic Council.
¥ 2013-at least 134 migrants are killed when their boat sinks near the Italian island of Lampedusa.
¥ 2015-42 people are killed and 33 go missing in the Kunduz hospital strike.

Daily Weird Facts:

Actor Frankie Muniz suffers from long term memory loss and doesn’t remember being on Malcolm in the Middle.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.”—Winston Churchill

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5
$47.66/barrel on 12/23
$48.63 on 01/07
$52.31/barrel on 01/16
$55.26/barrel on 2/3
$55.41/barrel on 2/26
$73.77/barrel on 4/29
$63.28/barrel on 5/17
$54.07/barrel on 6/18
$55.96/barrel on 7/24
$58.31/barrel on 9/10
$53.50/barrel on 10/2

The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station has slowly climbed since Hurricane Dorian to $2.39/gallon, despite the drop in oil prices during the same period. Most of the other stations in the area are 40-70 cents more per gallon.

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all Repo Commentary dates):

112.20 on 12/24
108.60 on 01/07
109.07 on 01/16
103.18 on 02/03
104.86 on 2/25
103.86 on 5/17
102.59 on 6/18
102.43 on 7/24
101.72 on 9/10
102.16 on 10/02

One Euro was trading on:

12/24 at $1.1426
01/07 at $1.1478
01/16 at $1.1396
02/03 at $1.2047
02/25 at $1.1955
05/17 at $1.1761
06/18 at $1.1825
07/24 at $1.1740
09/10 at $1.1623
10/02 at $1.1504

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24 at $1.2655
01/07 at $1.2770
01/16 at $1.2880
02/03 at $1.3758
02/25 at $1.3728
05/17 at $1.3427
06/18 at $1.3157
07/24 at $1.3070
09/10 at $1.2959
10/02 at $1.2882

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24
1.3297 on 01/07
1.3255 on 01/16
1.2492 on 2/03
1.2492 on 2/25
1.2800 on 5/17
1.2740 on 6/18
1.2480 on 7/24
1.2520 on 9/10
1.2560 on 10/02

Gold closed on 9/09 at $1504.90/ounce. On 10/02, it closed at $1498.70/ounce.

Bitcoin was trading at (Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25
$6,350 on 10/5
$3,774.97 on 12/24/18
$3,7774.97 on 01/07
$3,598.90 on 01/16
$3,421.10 on 02/06
$3,826.44 on 02/26
$8,100.00 on 05/16
$7,215.79 on 05/17
$9,088.59 on 06/18
$11,919.30 on 06/25
$9,790.37 on 07/24
$10,183.90 on 09/10
$8,235.46 on 10/02

After rebounding dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer, rallied during the Summer, and recently has tumbled again in the past month.

Global Financial News:

The recent deal with the Trump Administration puts Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on course to break free of government conservatorship and allows them to retain earnings. The US unemployment rate just fell to a 50-year low today. The figures run counter to recent economic data that was pointing to the US heading for a recession. The EU is readying its response to tariffs imposed by the US, after the WTO ruled that the US could retaliate against the EU subsidies to aircraft manufacturer Airbus. Advisory firms are being urged to act a “digital safeguards” and train employees and clients on cybersecurity and reviewing software vendors’ security. In an ironic twist, the FSB, who originally pushed for tough industry regulations, is now saying that cutting back banks’ loss reserves/equity/capital that they have to hold, to reduce the likelihood of a government bailout during systemic crisis, would help make the global economy more stable. That comes from Randal Quarles, chairman of the FSB and vice chairman of supervision at the Federal Reserve, saying “We have set our [loss-absorbing capacity] too high.” Fed’s Clarida said monetary policy is “not on a preset course.” Trade groups and financial institutions are calling for action to deal with unnecessary fragmentation that regulations have created, in some cased unintended consequences. The Federal Reserve will discuss changes to bank supervision, including ones that will ease regulations for mid-size and regional banks. Living Will requirements are also expected to change and become based on bank size. EU and Ireland say that the UK must make more concessions to get a Brexit deal, making it appear that British PM Boris Johnson’s proposal is not likely to lead to a deal. CFPB has added members to its advisory boards, reversing former acting Director Mulvaney’s efforts to dismantle some of the boards of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In Pensions & Investments, a new survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies shows that only 17% of employers are “very” confident about their employees’ retirement security. 23% of employers said they were “not too” confident, and 6% were “not at all” confident. Philadelphia Fed president Patrick Harker said that the use of digital currencies by central banks is “inevitable.” Falling yields on US Treasuries and German Bunds, fueled by strong appetite for ‘save haven’ securities and Easing by the Federal Reserve, suggest the global economy is in trouble and inflation is set to remain low. The pace of the expansion of the US services sector has slowed to a 3-year low in September, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The first 4 IPOs since WeWork’s planned offering collapsed and Peloton shares dropped post-IPO, demonstrate that investors appear to be losing interest in startups going public, per Bloomberg News. Slowing in US manufacturing activity and private-sector hiring, along with a weakening economy and growing trade strife, are making analysts bearish on industrial stocks.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones (global stocks as well), along with other stock indices, were enjoying record or near-record highs in late July 2019 (feeding off of earnings reports, US budget progress, and the Fed switching to easing monetary policy) but then corrected some 10% in August 2019, due to global political unrest and tariff/trade wars. Since August, it has been turbulent, but given the turmoil in the Repo Market, Fed easing, and lower yields/higher issuance in the US Treasury market, one would have expected some reallocation to stocks.

The Dow Jones closed at (Repo Commentary Dates):

26,656.77 on 9/20/18
26,447.05 on 10/5/18
21,792.20 on 12/23/18
21,712.53 on 12/26/18
24,207.16 on 01/16/19
25,063.89 on 2/06/19
26,106.47 on 2/25/19
25,862.68 on 5/16/19
26,465.54 on 6/18/19
27,269.97 on 7/24/19
26,793.09 on 9/10/19
26,229.31 on 10/02/19 down 343.73 points as I write this

S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20/18 of 2,930.66, then marched back up to a new high on 7/24/19, only to correct to nearly 2,800 three times in August, before rising again to near the highs, closing on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58
12/26/18 at 2,467.70
01/07/19 at 2,549.69
01/16/19 at 2,616.10
02/06/19 at 2,706.53
02/25/19 at 2,799.34
05/16/19 at 2,876.32
06/18/19 at 2,917.75
07/24/19 at 3,019.56 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 2,969.04
10/02/19 at 2,906.94 down 33.31 as I write this

Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28/18 high of 8,030.04, closing on:

10/5/18 at 7,788.45
12/26/18 at 6,554.36
01/07/19 at 6,823.47
01/16/19 at 7,034.70
02/06/19 at 7,263.87
02/25/19 at 7,561.87
05/16/19 at 7,898.05
06/18/19 at 7,953.68
07/24/19 at 8,321.50 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 8,043.58
10/02/19 at 7,809.22 down 99.46 as I write this

US Treasury yields have been in free-fall since hitting highs in October 2018.

2 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.88%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.53%
01/16/19 at 2.55%
02/06/19 at 2.52%
02/22/19 at 2.48%
05/16/19 at 2.20%
06/18/19 at 1.86%
07/24/19 at 1.83%
09/09/19 at 1.58%
10/01/19 at 1.56%

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%
12/18/18 at 2.64%
01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)
01/16/19 at 2.53%
02/06/19 at 2.50%
02/22/19 at 2.46%
05/16/19 at 2.15%
06/18/19 at 1.80%
07/24/19 at 1.79%
09/09/19 at 1.52%
10/01/19 at 1.51%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.49%
01/16/19 at 2.54%
02/06/19 at 2.51%
02/22/19 at 2.47%
05/16/19 at 2.18%
06/18/19 at 1.83%
07/24/19 at 1.82%
09/09/19 at 1.49%
10/01/19 at 1.51%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%
12/18/18 at 2.74%
01/07/19 at 2.60%
01/16/19 at 2.62%
02/06/19 at 2.59%
02/22/19 at 2.55%
05/16/19 at 2.28%
06/18/19 at 1.93%
07/24/19 at 1.93%
09/09/19 at 1.57%
10/01/19 at 1.59%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%
12/18/18 at 2.82%
01/07/19 at 2.70%
01/16/19 at 2.73%
02/06/19 at 2.70%
02/22/19 at 2.65%
05/16/19 at 2.40%
06/18/19 at 2.06%
07/24/19 at 2.05%
09/09/19 at 1.83%
10/01/19 at 1.65% dramatic drop in one month!

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%
12/18/18 at 3.07%
01/07/19 at 2.99%
01/16/19 at 3.07%
02/06/19 at 3.03%
02/22/19 at 3.02%
05/16/19 at 2.84%
06/18/19 at 2.55%
07/24/19 at 2.58%
09/10/19 at 2.11%
10/01/19 at 2.11%

US Treasury yields have virtually disappeared in the last 2 months and market participants got another 25bp rate cut at the 9/18 FOMC meeting, and are expecting yet another cut before year-end. Timing is perfect for record issuance by the US Treasury, so it will pay less interest on its debt, and as it’s mulling over issuing much longer maturities at these cycle low interest rates. But, there is a ‘Catch-22’: the rates are low, so, great for issuance and great for Treasury; but who will buy the securities if they have too low a yield versus other investments?

Housing News:

The NY Times officially declared the Manhattan real estate a “buyers’ market”. Hmmm, the brokers on Million Dollar Listing-NYC had declared that a season ago. Anyway, the volume of sales and the prices of condos and co-ops (I had a cond-op, ugh) fell sharply in Q3, in almost every real estate category in Manhattan. As the NYT points out, some of this was due to the transfer-tax rates for luxury apartments that went into effect in July. Volume of Sales in Q3 was down 14.2% year/year and median sales prices fell 8.2% to $1,025,000. Compass pointed out that in Q3, properties stayed an average of 152 days on the market, the longest since 2012. Back to that transfer-tax rate (also referred to as the ‘mansion tax’), it is a tax on sales above $1 million with staggered percentage tax from 1-3.9%, depending on the sales price of the property. A Michigan real estate agent’s “Scream” themed listing photos have gone viral. REALTOR Magazine reports that single-story ranch homes are becoming more desirable that they once were. Analysts expect lower mortgage rates to buoy buyer demand in the Fall months, as the bright spot in a worrisome economy. A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that some buyers may be better off using a digital mortgage, which reduces discrimination. A new study says that 17% of young homebuyers regret their purchases.

Repo News:

I am guessing that this is the first time for many to actually scroll down to the Repo Market section of the Repo Commentary first, rather than Entertainment or Sports. Well, I guess that’s understandable. We have been experiencing those once-in-a-decade volatile periods in the Securities Finance Market that suddenly put the word “Repo” on the front pages of Bloomberg, WSJ, and NY Times, baffling hundreds of millions of people around the world. I intended to write this Repo Commentary a week ago, but got a deluge of calls from clients, colleagues, and media about the current state of affairs. It’s nice to be needed and the first call when there is trouble in our Securities Financing industry, to an extent.

I had to laugh when Invesco’s Vice Chairman of Investments, Krishna Memani, wrote on LinkedIn, “get a repo trader going and he will regale—and bore—you to death-with stories about the inner workings of the money market. And within 10 minutes, you will be talking about the repo market during the financial crisis as if it happened yesterday.” I think he was specifically directing that at me! Well, “repo” is the lubricant of the money market system, particularly the issuance of US Treasuries and other bonds, and it only comes up in conversation among non-participants when the gears start squeaking or fail to function, like yelling for WD 40. And, the last time the general public heard about “repo” it was during the Financial Crisis. Okay, there, I said it, I proved Mr. Memani right.

I know you’ve seen many articles on the subject of current repo market illiquidity and volatility, I’ve read them too. I think I can summarize them all and add my almost 37 years of experience in the Securities Finance market to lay out the causes and possible solutions.

To look at the WHY, one need look at what has happened since the Financial Crisis.

¥ The regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve, instituted emergency liquidity programs for different sectors of the money market (CP, Corporate Bonds, Broker/Dealers, GSEs, etc.). They eventually unwound those many programs.
¥ They opened up for a brief time the Discount Window to more participants and without the previous stigma attached, for collateral providers to access cash.
¥ They put FNMA and FHLMC into conservatorship.
¥ They began easing Monetary Policy massively for years.
¥ They began Quantitative Easing and built up the Fed’s balance sheet to $4.5 trillion. They added to it by buying more securities every month from the paydowns on their MBS portfolio.
¥ They propped up some broker/dealers, allowed some to fail, and helped others to consolidate/merge.
¥ The Repo Market shrunk in the US from about $7 trillion to $3 trillion, before recent increase to about $3.6 trillion.
¥ Regulators instituted mountains of new reforms, especially the 310 new rules of Dodd-Frank, globally to decrease the likelihood of systemic risk in the financial system and to force, particularly the broker/dealers and GSIB banks to hold more capital/reserves for liquidity.
¥ The market began looking for alternatives to financing through broker/dealers via CCPs, peer-to-peer financing, Sponsored Repo, and electronic trading platforms.
¥ The Fed began its much hailed RRP program, which added over 300 cash providers from the Repo market to finance the Fed’s balance sheet and provide ‘liquidity’ for those cash providers.
¥ The Fed stopped QE and began reducing their balance sheet down to $2.5 trillion.
¥ The US Treasury began ramping up issuance to the tune of about $1 trillion more, which is funneled through the 24 primary broker/dealers and the central banks.
¥ The Fed began tightening monetary policy and tinkering with new measures of repo rates and LIBOR replacement. They also began tinkering with the Interest on Excess Reserves (IOER) from banks and credit unions, to try to create higher reserves.
¥ The Fed did an about face and began easing monetary policy. They also lowered IOER.
That’s not everything that happened, but that gives you the broad strokes. And just in those bullet points, I see many of the contributing factors of the recent dislocation of the repo market. And, by the way, that actually refutes Mr. Memani’s later comment that “Nothing much has happened in the money markets since financial crisis. A lot more happened in those 11 years than happened in the 26 years that I was in the money markets.

I believe the reasons we had dislocations over the last week or so in repo rates, up as high as 10% the first day and 6% the second day, despite the Fed easing the target to 1.75%-2.00% the third day, and coming in with Overnight Open Market Operations (which they used to do daily—Customer RPs, System RPs, Match Sales—which was how we used to determined what they were doing with Monetary Policy, based on whether they were adding reserves or removing reserves and to what extent, but I won’t “bore” you), come down to a major imbalance of bank reserves, behavior not consistent with expectation, illiquidity in the repo market (rather than the highly touted increase in liquidity), concentration risk, a corporate tax date that removed cash from the repo market, humongous new supply of US treasuries being issued, many Repo market participants out of the Federal Reserve direct loop, and a mountain of hundreds of new regulations that broker/dealers (and others) are trying to still absorb and position reserves/capital, personnel, and trading strategies for. As you can see, there are a lot of balls in the air!

I’m not sure why participants and regulators didn’t foresee an imbalance (lack of) bank reserves. The piles of new regulations that regulators gave to the money markets fundamentally required banks to hold more reserves versus balance sheets (which repo is the major contributor to), the low yields may have encouraged banks to use reserves elsewhere in more profitable areas than repo (they are profit-motivated, as they should be), and the Fed lowered the IOER which may have disincented banks from depositing reserves at the Fed. The decrease in the Fed’s balance sheet came at the cost of the market absorbing those securities. The US Treasury issuing phenomenal amounts of securities that have to be taken by the 24 primary dealers (already full up on balance sheets they are trying to reduce) and the central banks/swfs (who already have $14 trillion of US Treasuries, should have been know as a potential clog in the system. Plus, with the Fed lowering rates, the returns on those US Treasuries would be lower for those new owners. And the central banks ownership of US Treasuries is another complicated story, one of ripple effects. They can’t really sell US Treasuries into this market, without having some issue with the US Government, whichever branch. But, yet, many of them need to support their currency, particularly against the US Dollar. So, some of them enter the Repo market to repo the US Treasuries to receive US Dollars to then buy their own currencies with, propping up their currency by kicking the can somewhat down the road, until their GDP rises or oil prices rise (raising their specific GDP). Layer over that macroeconomic soup a topping of trade wars and tariffs, it becomes rather complex to predict. And, that brings me to my last observation, that unintended consequences arose from the hundreds of regulations foisted on the money market, mainly because market behavior is not that predictive. Regulators thought that if they made the system safer, more investors would come in, but yet the repo market didn’t grow that much, but yet supply from the Fed and from the US Treasury increased dramatically. Regulators thought that if the banks had more reserves and capital, they would pass that on to the buyside, but that didn’t take into account their profit motivations and individual bank idiosyncricies. Lastly, the regulators didn’t expect the perfect storm of added supply, taxes withdrawn, cash out of the system, reserves lower, and tools that would work directly only on the 24 primary dealers and the 300 cash providers in RRP. I’ve been remarking for years, since the RRP, that there was not a comparable program for collateral providers/leveraged players in the Repo market. Steve Malekian went further to say, a year ago, that the newly touted liquidity of the Repo market was “only for Platinum accounts.” It was only for select buyside clients.

So, the Fed needs to do something. And, I don’t mean just the Overnight operations with the 24 primary dealers. I can’t even predict what those dealers’ positions are or how the added liquidity would flow to the buyside clients. The extra cash could be used to fund their Swaps desk, the Repo Desk, other outright traders, Platinum accounts, or speculatively with leveraged accounts (as a few savvy broker/dealers have seen that opportunity and gone short to reverse in at higher rates from leveraged accounts and supply balance sheet). The point is that the mound of regulations and the open market operations and the tinkering with the IOER are supposed to impact banks and broker/dealers in such a way to induce certain behavior, but behavior is unique. So, the Fed needs to go back to its ample toolkit (and get people who have been there at least 10 years) to:
¥ Implement more term RPs, to give the market some faith and reduce Fed reputational risk
¥ Purchase securities, either US Treasuries or Agency MBS, increasing the Fed balance sheet (although this may be difficult because there were probably several good reasons why they decreased it.)
¥ Open the Discount Window to more participants, with NO stigma attached (it used to be how one in the market knew who was having a liquidity crisis), and other sectors represented.
¥ Create a collateral provider facility, similar to RRP, or help reduce the hurdles, like CCLF for CCPs and Sponsored Repo type ventures to increase liquidity.
¥ Tinker the IOER rate UP, rather than down, to increase the Reserves at the Fed.
¥ Support/encourage Repo done outside of the 24 primary dealers, helping collateral providers find cash providers, when certain broker/dealers are balance sheet full and capital restrained from the very regulations that the Fed was involved in. I hope that didn’t come out too angry. I think systemic risk reduction is a huge priority and I am worried about firesale risk (although I don’t think moving the sale down the road to 7 days or 30 days changes firesale risk, it just changes the date of the firesale).
Okay, you made it through my diatribe. Sorry for the verbosity or if I ‘bored’ you. The bottom line is that the money markets, particularly the securities finance market (Repo & Securities Lending) is still trying to find its footing, particularly as the Repo market has shrunk, while Treasury supply has increased.

I still see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for ALL collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers, which has been volatile but certainly widened since the Financial Crisis, and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis, which not only subjected clients to dealer defaults and wider spreads, but in many cases directly impacted clients by making them suddenly the outright traders of repo collateral. Some of that collateral, on top of it, was very illiquid. Not knowing who the other clients were on the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book, and who could potentially bring down those intermediary dealers was costly for many clients. Clearly, with that pipeline of is intermediation becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets (which has recovered partially with new entrants to the market and international banks’ increases due to regulatory arbitrage) being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be explored for cash provider and collateral provider clients. My former baby, AVM’s Direct Repo™, was the first of one of such pathways, over 10 years ago. Since then, many other liquidity pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agented repo through seclending agents and some prime brokers to buyside clients, direct lending from beneficial owners to hedge funds who are short via their agents, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations of their custodial clients, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like (Elixium, BNY DBVX, State Street’s Cash Cross), FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products for certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, dealer to dealer and some clients electronic trading platforms (like GLMX, HQLA, and Tradeweb), other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (particularly in Europe, like Eurex, LCH, OCC, CME, etc.), total return swaps platforms (like WeMatch.com), and collateralized loan exchanges like AFX/CBOE. There have still been other firms that have created some king of product that mimics a repo, but yet doesn’t show up on dealers’ balance sheets (so helps them), and/or provides better credit counterparties (so helps clients), and can take many forms. I believe this overall evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used in some part, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers. Some of that balance sheet has returned, as I mentioned above, but maybe for only select ‘platinum’ clients and may come at a higher bid/offer spread or in specific, more profitable products/securities, as other market observers/experts have said.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:

• Deutsche Borse/Clearstream held its annual conference this week in Luxembourg, which I attended last year.
• IMN 25th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference was held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/5-2/6. I was chosen as the Chairperson.
• Finadium held a new conference on the Business of Collateral Trading in Frankfurt, Germany on 2/21.
• IMN held its annual Fixed Income Investor Network in Las Vegas on 2/24.
• iMoneyNet held its annual MMExpo in Middleburg, VA 3/4-3/6.
• PASLA/RMA held its 16th annual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia 3/5-3/7.
• GIOA held its 15th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/20-3/22.
• Crane Data held its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Philadelphia on 3/25-3/26.
• Finadium held its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
• GFOA held its 113th annual conference in Los Angeles on 5/19-5/22.
• Securities Lending Times held its annual Securities Finance Technology Symposium in London on 5/9.
• IMN held its annual Global ABS conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/11-6/13.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Philadelphia, PA on 6/18-6/20.
• ISLA held its Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Madrid this week.
• Crane Data held its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26 in Boston.
• Hedge Fund Association held its Rooftop Social in NYC on 6/27.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/17-9/19.
• IHS Markit in conjunction with Opal Group will hold a Securities Finance Forum in NYC on 9/17.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 9/22-9/24.
• IMN will hold its annual European Securities Finance conference in London on 9/25-9/26.
• Crane Data will hold its annual European Money Fund Symposium in Dublin, Ireland on 9/23-24.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe in London on 9/24.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in Naples, FL on 10/6-10/9.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its Fixed Income Leaders conference in Barcelona on 10/7-10/9.
• RMA will hold its 37th annual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Boca Raton, FL on October 14-17. I will be seeing many of you there/here. I haven’t missed an RMA and I’m not going to start now!
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its gigantic annual conference in Boston, MA on 10/20-10/23.
• Finadium will hold its Rates & Repo conference in New York on 11/4
• Risk.net will hold its 25th annual Risk USA conference in NYC on November 5-6.
• SIFMA will hold its annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 11/18-11/20.

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 1.75-2.00% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while), after the FOMC lowered it on 7/31/19 and again on 9/18/19. The Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR), as reported by the Federal Reserve, was 1.88% on 10/1/19.

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. That rate on 10/1/19 was 1.85%.

The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is supposed to be a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities. It is also reported by the NY Fed on its website. It has been controversial and has been considered as a possible replacement for LIBOR. SOFR includes trades in the Broad General Collateral Rate of Repo plus bilateral Treasury Repo transactions cleared through the DVP services at CCP FICC, ostensibly filtering out issues trading Special. However, critics (and I am one) say that it only picks up the Offered Side of Repo (not a median), that it only picks up the small amount of DVP transactions cleared at FICC and Triparty Repo done at Bank of NY, ignoring the growing amount of bilateral (non-Triparty) repo being done peer-to-peer, dealer-to-dealer, and client-to-dealer, outside of FICC. It is a good representation of where Money Funds (except for a few savvy ones who trade peer-to-peer) are paid on their cash versus US Treasuries in Repo each day by broker/dealers. It almost completely ignores other sectors, particularly buyside clients with collateral. That all being said, the current SOFR reported by the Fed for 10/1/19 was 1.88%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20.

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15/19, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market. So, if RRP is not extinct, it is certainly now dormant, occasionally coming out of hibernation for year-ends and quarter-ends, when liquidity becomes very strange.

In December 2018, at the FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%
12/13/18 to 2.50%

But, then the Federal Reserve paused. Suddenly, on 7/31/19, the Fed eased the Fed Funds target rate to 2.25%, and then did another rate cut by 0.25% to 2.00% on 9/18/19. Technically, that rate is the top end of a 25bp rate spread that the Fed considers its current target rate (1.75%-2.00%). The reversal in monetary policy is expected to continue, with perhaps one more rate cut by the Fed in 2019.

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For reference, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007, at or near the beginning of the Financial Crisis.

I personally think the Federal Reserve (and the US Treasury) could use an industry consultant with nearly 37 years of experience in the securities financing market and who has worked extensively in sell-side, buy-side, and vender firms, giving him/her a unique and neutral perspective. I know someone like that.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Globally, the Earth’s crust is still very active, especially along the Pacific Rim and in Chile. These are just the earthquakes over the last 3 days! Latest strong earthquakes (4.5 magnitude and above):

10/2 4.8 81km SE of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
10/2 5.1 196km W of Abepura, Indonesia
10/2 5.0 66km NNE of Xujiaba, China
10/2 4.7 Carlsberg Ridge
10/2 5.2 39km S of San Mateo del Mar, Mexico
10/2 4.7 147km W of Coquimbo, Chile
10/2 4.8 223km E of Yamada, Japan
10/1 5.2 Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
10/1 5.5 91km SSW of Macquarie Island
10/1 4.6 79km NW of San Antonio de los Colores, Argentina
10/1 4.5 241km SE of Amahai, Indonesia
10/1 4.5 46km SSE of Caucete, Argentina
10/1 5.2 Broken Ridge
10/1 4.9 254km NNW of Farallon de Pajaros, Nothern Mariana Islands
10/1 5.3 37km SE of Wairoa, New Zealand
10/1 5.9 Southern East Pacific Rise
9/30 4.5 9km NE of Cruz Grande, Mexico
9/30 4.6 58km ESE of Madang, Papua New Guinea
9/30 5.0 94km ESE of Ol’ga, Russia
9/30 4.6 128km SW of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea
9/30 4.7 142km SSE of Lambasa, Fiji
9/30 4.7 140km SSE of Lambasa, Fiji
9/30 4.5 45km N of Arzak, China
9/30 5.6 40km NE of Calama, Chile
9/30 4.7 Kuril Islands
9/30 4.8 158km WNW of Constitucion, Chile
9/30 4.7 42km ESE of General Luna, Philippines
9/30 4.7 50km WSW of Constitucion, Chile
9/30 4.9 121km SW of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1st and ends November 30th. For 2018, Colorado State University experts had predicted an above average season of 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 would become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, there were 15 named Tropical Storms, of which 8 were hurricanes, and 2 of them major. So, they underestimated.

Hurricane officials were warning Floridians to prepare in advance of the 2019 storm season. There are several national meteorological services and scientific agencies that forecast how many named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes (above Category 3). TSR, CSU, and The Weather Company were similar numbers, while NCU was higher. CSU has been the most used and they forecast for 2019 a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. We have already had 12 named storms, and have only just reached the historically busiest month. Hurricane Lorenzo is bearing down on Ireland and Great Britain, having spun North and East from the Caribbean. It still has 80mph winds.

The Hurricane names for the 2019 North Atlantic season are:

Andrea-x
Barry-x
Chantal-x
Dorian-x
Erin-x
Fernand-x
Gabrielle-x
Humberto-x
Imelda-x
Jerry-x
Karen-x
Lorenzo-x
Melissa
Nestor
Olga
Pablo
Rebekah
Sebastian
Tanya
Van
Wendy

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18 and ends 11/1/18.

Eastern North Pacific currently has no activity to report, after just having 3 tropical cyclones come through. Central North Pacific currently has no activity to report.

As for the weather, starting with the heat, after setting an all-time Florida record high average temperature for May, June and July, respectively, temperatures have moderated slightly, by about 5-10 degrees, bringing down the daily heat indices of 105-110. However, after two months of nearly daily thunderstorms, most counties of Florida (including Palm Beach County) set a 100-year record DRY September, with only 1.39 inches of rain here in PBC. I’m sure you saw that wedding picture from Washington State this weekend, in which it snowed on the bride and groom. A massive snowstorm dumped 4 feet of snow on Montana this weekend. Early snows are being seen in the Pacific Northwest and the Rockies. Temperatures are plummeting into the 20s and 30s. Rain is expected over the Plain States, Texas, and Louisiana, where temperatures will be in the 60s and 70s. New York and New England will see rain, some mix, and snow in northern Maine, where temperatures will range between 30s and 50s. Florida should see a pick up in rain and hopefully a lessening of the last 5 days of 30mph winds. Temperatures should moderate in the mid-to-high 80s. The South has been so hot for months that there is now a ‘flash drought’.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season began 3/28 this year and ended on 9/30 (more than 6 months). The Postseason will now begin with one game Wild Card playoffs in both the AL and the NL, then the Wild Card winner against one of the Division winners in both Leagues, followed by Division Championships, and ultimately, the World Series, of the best of the AL and the NL. The 2018 World Series Champion Red Sox did not start well, suffered injuries to starting pitching and loss of both closers to free agency, and became the tenth team to win a World Series and not make the Playoffs the following year. Not unexpectedly, they fired their 3-year GM Dave Dumbowski. They have a lot of key players who will become free agents after the 2020 season, which poses the question of whether they will keep them to win one more time, or follow owner John Henry’s plan to lower payroll for the team and trade key players for the future. This will likely be as painful an off-season for us Red Sox fans, as it was a regular season. The Red Sox president has admitted it will be “difficult” to keep both Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. I think the majority of you readers are Yankee fans (although I never took a poll), so you’re ecstatic that the Yankees have indeed made the Postseason and are one of the strongest contenders, after having fallen just short in 2018.

The Red Sox were obviously not the only team expected to do well that did not do well in 2019, as is evidenced by the 16% drop in MLB attendance in 2019 over 2018. The end of a sports regular season is always coupled with a list of fired coaches and managers and GMs. Here is 2019’s casualty list (and available positions):

¥ Cubs manager-Joe Maddon
¥ Pirates manager-Clint Hurdle
¥ Angels manager-Brad Ausmus
¥ Royals manager
¥ Giants manager-Bruce Bochy
¥ Padres manager-Andy Green
¥ Red Sox GM-Dave Dombrowski
¥ Mets manager-Mickey Callaway

Looking ahead to the playoffs, the Astros had the best record in the AL, beating out the Yankees and Twins. So, the A’s played the Rays in the one-game Wild Card playoff, while the Astros waited for the winner of that game. The Rays won 5-1, eliminating the A’s from the postseason. The Yankees will play the Twins, who they have owned recently. The Indians and Red Sox fell short of the Wild Card playoffs. Today, the ALDS best of 5 series begin with the Rays at the Astros and the Twins at the Yankees. In the NL, the Dodgers, by far, had the best record, over the Braves. The NL Wild Card Playoff game was between the red hot Nationals and the Brewers, who were just eclipsed by the Cardinals for the NL Central. The Nationals had just beaten the Brewers in and exciting game of the final season. Then, on Tuesday night they repeated with another exciting close win over the Brewers, 4-3, eliminating the Brewers from the postseason. The Nationals will now face the Dodgers, and in fact lost Game 1 of their best of 5 NLDS 6-0 on Thursday night. Game 2 is tonight. Meanwhile, the Braves now play Cardinals, and actually lost Game 1 7-6 on Thursday night, in their best of 5 NLDS. Game 2 is tonight. The Mets, Diamondbacks, and Cubs fell short of the Playoffs. Interestingly, the A’s have as many wins as every National League playoff team except the Dodgers and the Rays have more wins than the Cardinals, Nationals, and Brewers. So, the AL overall has stronger records than the NL it was a small triumph that the Nationals, perennially strong starters and analysts’ favorites, finally made the Playoffs. And they had to beat the Brewers in the last game of the season to make it, which is ironic, since that’s their opponent in the one-game Wild Card Playoff too.

The Giants are planning to move their bullpens behind the outfield wall, reducing foul territory and will change Oracle Park. The Nationals offered Anthony Rendon a massive 7-year/$200 million extension. A Houston businessman has bet $3.5 million on the Astros to win the World Series.

Golf:

The FedEx Cup finally ended with Rory McIlroy winning the $15 million check. The PGA Tour took a 15-day break after that, then resumed the Fall season, with 11 tournaments. On Wednesday, World No.1 Brooks Koepka revealed that he recently (after the Tour Championship) underwent stem-cell treatment to repair a partially torn patella tendon in his left knee. That’s why he didn’t practice before any non-major tournament last year, because of the pain. This week, the PGA Tour is at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where Koepka will debut for his 2019-2020 season. Koepka was also given the Player of the Year Award for 2018-2019. He made it clear in the press conference that he doesn’t play for awards, he plays for titles. The European Tour unveiled its schedule for 2020 season:

¥ 11/28-12/1/19 Hong Kong Open
¥ 11/28-12/1/19 Alfred Dunhill Championship
¥ 12/5-12/8/19 Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open
¥ 12/19-12/22/19 Australian PGA Championship
¥ 1/9-1/12/20 South African Open
¥ 1/16-1/19 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
¥ 1/23-1/26 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
¥ 1/30-2/2 Saudi International
¥ 2/6-2/9 ISPS Handa Vic Open
¥ 2/20-2/23 WGC-Mexico Championship
¥ 2/27-3/1 Oman Open
¥ 3/5-3/8 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
¥ 3/12-3/15 Magical Kenya
¥ 3/19-3/22 Hero Indian Open
¥ 3/25-3/29 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
¥ 4/9-4/12 The Masters
¥ 4/16-4/19 Maybank Championship
¥ 4/23-4/26 Volvo China Open
¥ 4/30-5/3 Estrella D. Andalucia Masters
¥ 5/9-5/10 GolfSixes Cascals
¥ 5/14-5/17 US PGA Championship
¥ 5/21-5/24 Made in Denmark
¥ 5/28-5/31 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
¥ 6/4-6/7 Trophee Hassan II
¥ 6/11-6/14 Scandinavian Invitation
¥ 6/18-6/21 US Open
¥ 6/25-6/28 BMW International Open
¥ you have to believe that I had no idea this would be so long and that I just wanted to be helpful/informational…
¥ 7/2-7/5 Open de France
¥ 7/2-7/5 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational
¥ 7/9-7/12 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open
¥ 7/16-7/19 The 149th Open (British Open)
¥ 7/30-8/2 Betfred British Masters
¥ 7/30-8/2 Olympic Men’s Golf Competition
¥ 8/6-8/9 UK event
¥ 8/20-8/23 D+D Real Czech Masters
¥ 8/27-8/30 Omega European Masters
¥ 9/3-9/6 Porsche European Open
¥ at least I can keep this in the Commentary and just update it for the next year…
¥ 9/10-9/13 BMW PGA Championship
¥ 9/17-9/20 KLM Open
¥ 9/25-9/27 The 2020 Ryder Cup
¥ 10/1-10/4 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
¥ 10/8-10/11 Italian Open
¥ 10/15-10/18 Mutuactivos Open de Espana
¥ 10/22-10/25 Portugal Masters
¥ 10/29-11/1 WGC-HSC Champions
¥ 11/5-11/8 Turkish Airlines Open
¥ 11/12-11/15 Nedbank Golf Challenge
¥ 11/19-11/22 DP World Tour Championship

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season ended with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive battle 13-3 in the Super Bowl. The 100th NFL season began 4 games/weeks ago. It has been remarkable for low-scoring defensive battles, a few blowouts, and a remarkable number of starting QB injuries (7)! It has also featured more than the usual number of bad record/bad teams. Currently, there are 6 winless teams and several others that are just flailing. This, so far, has been a season that LACKS parity, maybe because of free agency or weird events. I can’t go on, without mentioning superstar WR Antonio Brown. So, he was one of the 3 stars of the Pittsburgh Steelers, until he became a problem in contract negotiations, and was traded to the Raiders. There, he became a problem in showing up for practice, in wearing his new protective helmet, in fighting with his coaches, and being accused of sexual battery. Even the Raiders, who have historically had their share of bad boys, decided to end their relationship with AB. He was snatched up by the Patriots, who were already full of superstar WRs. He lasted one game and one TD, before more charges against him appeared, and the Pats cut their losses. He is still hoping to be hired by another NFL team this season, while his legal battles continue in court. I was actually shocked that the Patriots picked up AB on waivers, given the charges against him, until one of my wiseguy friends said “hey, aren’t the Patriots the team that had a tight end who killed someone during a bye week in a season?” That shut me up.

So, let me tell you what I think about each team, so far, in 2019, this early in the season. So far, I’ve survived my pool (I really hate to call it a ‘suicide pool’, I wish they had a better term for it, I’m going to call it a ‘survivor pool’). If you have one of those ‘survivor pools’ too, then it hasn’t hurt you to take whatever team is playing the lowly Dolphins, despite this past weekend’s first half against the Chargers. That was only because I picked the Chargers and the Chargers decided not to play a healthy star RB Melvin Gordon. Of course, this week, the Dolphins have a bye, so I need to find another underperformer to lose to a good team. But, the Dolphins haven’t been the only disappointing NFL team in the AFC East. The Jets, with new superstar bizarre holdout Le’Veon Bell (and I love him from the Spartans), are awful. Sorry, they just are. The Bengals, who have usually contended with the Steelers in the AFC North, are 0-4 and just got pummeled Monday night by their rival Steelers, who are now without Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and QB Big Ben. I’m not sure who is still on the Steelers’ roster. Oh, let’s go back to the starting QB issue in the NFL. So, for the 4th year in a row, the NFL decides to institute QB protection rules and penalties that basically limit a defender to tackle a QB only while he has the ball, between the shoulders and the hip, without the helmet, with no arm or hand to the face, only when he has the ball, and without putting his weight on him. So, probably more than half of the sacks in NFL history would have been penalized. And, yet, with such protection for arguably the most important player in the game (don’t get me started on placekickers!), has in 4 weeks, yielded 7 of 32 starting QBs injured, some for the entire season. That’s like high repo rates, despite Fed inter…oh, never mind. So, if you are fans of these teams, many perennial playoff teams, you are no doubt biting your nails down to the core, watching guys you don’t know who are either journeymen or the guy you just drafted from college: Steelers, Saints, Bills, Bears, Panthers, Colts (retired unexpectedly from injuries), Jets, Raiders, and Jaguars. Hmmm, that was 9 teams. The Raiders apparently had another problem on their hands, as longtime rule-violator, Vontaze Burfict, hit a defenseless receiver in the head in the last game, against the Colts, and was ejected. Then, the NFL decided it had had enough and suspended him for the rest of the season without pay. Just to pour salt in Coach Jon Gruden’s wounds, Bears’ all-star LB Khalil Mack, who the Raiders traded for 3 draft picks, says he expected to be a Raider “for a long haul.” He gets to play against his former team, as a Bear, next Sunday, in London. More Gruden news, A. Stephens is hearing rumors that Jon’s brother, Jay, may get fired as coach of the winless Redskins. Reportedly, Patriots’ placekicker, Stephen Gostkowski, who missed a rare 4 kicks in a row (field goals and points after) needs season-ending surgery. The Raiders and Bears will be playing in London this Sunday. Longtime Cardinals owner, Bill Bidwell (ironically one of my nicknames in the Biz), has died at age 88. Bears LB Roquan Smith is back at practice and may be ready to play Week 5 in London. Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill is resuming practice after his shoulder injury. Colts GM is raving about QB Jacoby Brissett, Tom Brady’s former backup. Hmmm, and the Colts are playing the Chiefs…

After just 4 weeks:

AFC East-the Patriots are 4-0, but the Bills have shown some great defense and are 3-1.

AFC North-the Cleveland Browns, expected to excel this year, have managed to be 2-2, tied with the strong offense of the Baltimore Ravens.

AFC South-the Houston Texans, also expected to be stronger, have managed to be 2-2, tied with the Luckless Colts, Foles-less Jaguars, and Titans.

AFC West-the KC Chiefs have gone undefeated 4-0 over the first 4 weeks, but it wasn’t always easy. The rest of the division is at least 2 games behind.

NFC East-the Cowboys have come out roaring at 3-1, ahead of the perennially strong Eagles, and suddenly struggling Redskins.

NFC North-the Packers have been surprisingly strong and the Bears are relying on their defense. The Lions and the Vikings have surprisingly stumbled.
NFC South-the Saints, after losing the other GOAT, QB Drew Brees, have somehow managed to stay atop the division at 3-1.. The Bucs have been surprisingly strong, just beating the Rams in a shootout. The Panthers are hanging on without QB Cam Newton, but the Falcons are underwhelming.

NFC West-the 49ers have become the real deal, rebuilding in just 2 years, now at 3-0. The Seahawks were expected to reign, but stumbled out of the gate, and are now 3-1, tied with the Rams, who have been inconsistent. The Cardinals are in disarray.

The AAF, which was co-founded by Charlie Ebersol, and supported by the NFL as a developmental league, was folded by the NFL just 6 games into the Spring season this year. It is not to be confused with the XFL, which was launched 17 years ago, by Dick Ebersol of NBC, Charlie’s father. The XFL will re-launch in 2020.

In case you are already looking forward to Super Bowl LIV, which will be held here in Miami, tickets and TD club package start at $5000 per person. Other packages start at $10,000 per person.

NCAA Football:

We have now played 5 weeks of the 15-week regular season. It was really weird starting out without Alabama on top of the AP Top 25 poll, where they perennially start at No.1. But, since Clemson won the BCS National Championship last year, they were No.1 to start the season. However, Alabama is back up there at No.1 again. Some serious excitement already, especially with Monday’s news of California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, which will allow college athletes to be paid for endorsements (profiting off their name, image, and likeness), sell autographs and merchandise, accept endorsement deals, and hire agents, starting in 2023. Maybe the most important/profitable part will be that they can sell their image to appear in a college sports video game. The last licensed college football video game came out in 2013. The last licensed college basketball video game came out in 2009. There are still 14 undefeated teams in the Top 25.

The current AP Top 25 Poll:
1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Georgia
4. Ohio State
5. LSU
6. Oklahoma
7. Auburn
8. Wisconsin
9. Notre Dame
10. Florida
11. Texas
12. Penn State
13. Oregon
14. Iowa
15. Washington
16. Boise State
17. Utah
18. UCF
19. Michigan
20. Arizona State
21. Oklahoma State
22. Wake Forest
23. Virginia
24. SMU
25. Michigan State (okay it’s really Texas A&M in this poll)

Week 6 games to watch (especially with *):

*No.18 UCF @ Cincinnati
Utah State @ No.5 LSU
*No.6 Oklahoma @ Kansas
*No.14 Iowa @ No.19 Michigan
*No.21 Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech
Kent State @ No.8 Wisconsin
Purdue @ No.12 Penn State
*No.11 Texas @ West Virginia
*No.7 Auburn @ No.10 Florida
Bowling Green @ No.9 Notre Dame
No.3 Georgia @ Tennessee
No.25 Michigan State @ No.4 Ohio State
Tulsa @ No.24 SMU
Cal @ No.13 Oregon
No.16 Boise State @ UNLV
No.15 Washington @ Stanford

NHL:

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some of the 31 teams, on 10/3/18. It ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Bruins 4-3 in the Finals. The Blues were in last place in their division in January and wound up winning it all. The Blues gave their superfan, Laila Anderson, a Stanley Cup championship ring. The NHL is finishing up free agency signings. This season began Wednesday 10/2/19 for 8 of the 31 teams. Jets journeyman, Lee Stempniak, has retired. Sharks’ Evander Kane begins the season with a 3-game suspension for abusing and shoving an official. Canucks Sven Baertschi has been waived. The Hurricanes have named new captain, Jordan Staal. Flames signed Tobias Rieder and Zac Rinaldo to one-year deals. Kyle Connor and Jets agreed to 7year/$50 million contract. Avalanche and Mikko Rantanen agree to 6-year/$55.5 million deal. Sidney Crosby’s number will be retired across QMJHL.

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3/18 as well. It officially ended with the underdogs, the Toronto Raptors, ousting the favorite Golden State Warriors in six games. This year, the NBA season does not start until 10/22/19. Dwight Howard has been impressive in Lakers camp. Warriors star Klay Thompson won’t return until after All-Star break.

Olympics:

The hype for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo has officially begun. You may have already heard that there will be some new sports added and some sports returning. The Olympic Channel has announced that it will present 300 hours of coverage of the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics in Lausanne, from January 9 to January 22. In those 13 days, 1,880 athletes will compete in 8 sports across 16 disciplines in 81 medal events. New events will include monobob bobsleigh and ski mountaineering.

Tennis:

US Open winner, Bianca Andreescu, just posted her 16th straight win. No.1 Djokovic is continuing his Tokyo title quest, at the ATP Tokyo, 4 weeks after his US Open. Nadal, Federer, and Murray are at the ATP Beijing China Open, which is also being played now.

Horse Racing:

Los Angeles could soon be the first major city to ban horse racing. The Breeders Cup will be at Santa Anita Park 11/1 and 11/2.

Racing:

Last year’s champion, his first, for the NASCAR Cup Series was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead. Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017. The 2019 regular season has just completed and the Playoffs are in full gear. Here is the complete schedule of races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2019 and the results:

2/17 Daytona 500, won by Denny Hamlin
2/24 Atlanta, QuickTrip 500, won by Brad Keselowski
3/3 Las Vegas-Joey Logano
3/10 ISM Raceway-Kyle Busch
3/17 Auto Club-Kyle Busch
3/24 Martinsville-Brad Keselowski
3/31 Texas-Denny Hamlin
4/7 Bristol-Kyle Busch
4/13 Richmond-Martin Truex Jr.
4/28 Talladega-Chase Elliott
5/5 Dover-won by Martin Truex Jr.
5/11 Kansas-won by Brad Keselowski
5/18 All-Star Open Charlotte-won by Austin Dillon
5/26 Charlotte, Coca-Cola 600-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/2 Pocono, Pocono 400-won by Kyle Busch
6/9 Michigan, Firekeepers Casino 400-won by Joey Logano
6/23 Sonoma, Save Mart 350-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/30 Chicago, Camping World 400-won by Alex Bowman
7/7 Daytona, Coke Zero 400-won by Austin Haley
7/13 Kentucky, Quaker State 400-won by Kurt Busch
7/21 New Hampshire, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-won by Kevin Harvick
7/28 Pocono, Gander RV 400-Denny Hamlin
8/4 Watkins Glen, GoBowling at The Glen-Chase Elliott
8/11 Michigan, Consumers Energy 400-Kevin Harvick
8/17 Bristol, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Denny Hamlin
9/1 Darlington, Bojangles’ Southern 500-Erik Jones
9/8 Indianapolis, Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard-Kevin Harvick
9/15 Las Vegas playoff-South Point 400-Martin Truex, Jr.
9/21 Richmond playoff-Martin Truex, Jr.
9/29 Charlotte playoff-Chase Elliott
10/6 Dover playoff
10/13 Talladega playoff
10/20 Kansas playoff
10/27 Martinsville playoff
11/3 Texas playoff
11/10 ISM Raceway playoff
11/17 Miami-Homestead final playoff

Formula One began with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That was followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule 2/18-2/21 and 2/26-3/1, both in Catalunya, Spain. Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar and results (it might be easier to just say which races were not won by Lewis Hamilton):

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne-won by V. Bottas
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by Lewis Hamilton
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg-won by Max Verstappen
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone-won by Lewis Hamilton
7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim-won by Max Verstappen
8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest-Lewis Hamilton
9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa-Charles Leclerc
9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza-Charles Leclerc
9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore-Sebastian Vettel
9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi-Lewis Hamilton
10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka
10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City
11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX
11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo
12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

Here is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar and results (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars). The season just ended, with Josef Newgarden coming in 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for championship:

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg-Josef Newgarden
3/24 Circuit of the Americas-Colton Herta
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama-Takuma Sato
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach-Alexander Rossi
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis-Simon Pagenaud
5/26 Indianapolis 500-Simon Pagenaud
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1-Josef Newgarden
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2-Scott Dixon
6/8 Texas Grand Prix-Josef Newgarden
6/23 Road America-Alexander Rossi
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto-Simon Pagenaud
7/20 Iowa 300-Josef Newgarden
7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio-Scott Dixon
8/18 Pocono Grand Prix-Will Power (I love that name!)
8/24 Gateway Grand Prix-Takuma Sato
9/1 Grand Prix of Portland-Will Power (that’s all it takes)
9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca-Colton Herta

Travel News:

Legoland just announced the opening date of its New York resort: July 4, 2020. It will be the largest LegoLand ever built, containing seven themed lands packed with more than 50 rides, attractions, and events over 150 acres. More than 15,000 Lego models will be shipped to the New York location from around the world. A 28-year-old tourist died after climbing over the safety barrier at Grand Canyon Skywalk. For your Wedding Registry at Bed Bath & Beyond, you can now add spa getaways, goat yoga, and shark cage diving. A Delta employee at JFK has been arrested, after a bag containing $258,205 in cash went missing. Saudi Arabia is issuing tourist visas for the first time ever. China just opened the world’s largest airport, Beijing Daxing International Airport. It measures more than 700,000 square meters. Congress is considering a bill that would abolish “unfair and deceptive’”resort fees. Ski.com has an incredible new ‘dream job’ for 12 lucky people to travel the world and check out beaches and ski destinations, and they’ll pay you $2200/month. Virgin Atlantic has now debuted a new plane that has an onboard lounge. Pressure mounts on GM to make a deal, as the autoworker strike there has dragged into its 19th day.

Health News:

Okay, I’m ready for you Northerners to invade for the RMA conference in October in Boca Raton, and the snowbirds to come down, as I got my flu shot two weeks ago. Government agencies are sounding the alarm over lead paint and want home buyers to take these dangers seriously and address remediation more quickly. Your new favorite Christmas candy is predicted to be new Sweet Cinnamon Kit Kat bars. This week, you can get McDonald’s Big Macs delivered straight to your door for just one cent. There are now 3 FDA-approved medications to treat opioid addiction in the US: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. But, doctors consistently underutilize them. The Mayo Clinic Proceedings review says that of the patients who qualify for the FDA-recommended medications to treat OUD, only 11% actually receive them. For teenage patients, that percentage is frighteningly lower, at 2.4%. Opioid use, particularly among teenagers, has hit epidemic proportions, according to a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Here are the figures: in 2017, 900 adolescents began misusing opioids daily. Out of more than 750,000 adolescents who misused opioids in 2018, 12.8%, or roughly 99,000 teens reported symptoms of OUD. Specifically for heroin addiction, only 2.4% of adolescents get treatment with these medications, while more than 26% of adults get treatment with these medications. Hepatitis A outbreaks have flared up across the USA. The vaping crisis has now caused over 1,000 adolescents to wind up in hospitals in the US with respiratory problems, as the FDA and CDC search for the cause. Hopefully, you are reading this soon enough to take advantage of various free taco deals today, National Taco Day (Friday).

Animal News:

On Tuesday, a woman decided she needed to climb into the lion enclosure at the Bronx Zoo and face off with a large male lion, even dancing and taunting the baffled animal. Surprisingly, the animal was so stunned, it just stood and stared at her, until authorities were able to lure it away. It must have been the particular dance steps. Authorities have yet to find the woman, however, even though she posted a rap video online. Adult sea otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium are adopting orphaned babies. Airbnb is now offering experiences to spend time with and learn about animals. An East Alabama woman has been charged with 47 counts of animal cruelty. Two people were injured in a Colorado elk attack. Of course they were filming too close to the wild animal. Scientists recently discovered that tiny tardigrades are notoriously tough and actually could weather extreme conditions, including nuclear attack, freezing cold, boiling heat, and the vacuum and lethal radiation of space. Scientists located the key ingredient in tardigrades’ arsenal of superpowers and identified it as a damage-suppressor protein called Dsup. Researchers have previously noted that when Dsup was added to human cells, they became safeguarded against damage from X-rays. Now, scientists have discovered that Dsup binds to chromosome structures and protects DNA from the harmful effects of radiation. A trail runner at Antelope Island State Park in Utah was gored by a charging bison in a ‘freak attack’, last Friday, and then his date suffered the same fate. Even though it’s making the news a lot lately, attacks by bison are extremely rare. In just that park in Utah, there are about 700 bison and in the last 10 years, about 4 million people have visited the park, with just 5 bison incidents. Bison are prey, not predators, but become aggressive during mating season (July-September) and will usually charge, but sometimes hit, to defend what they feel is a safe space near them. Since 1980, bison have injured more people in Yellowstone National Park than any other animal has. The experts say don’t try to outrun a bison, because they can reach speeds of about 35 mph. Try to go back the way you came. Taking on the controversial issues of today, I report that there are worms (nematodes) that have 3 sexes thriving in an arsenic-laced lake in California. A walrus attacked and sank a Russian tugboat last week. No nationality was determined for the walrus. Now, that the last male Northern White Rhino has died, leaving just 2 females, scientists have created embryos from the eggs of the last living females in a lab. A newly described species of giant pterosaur (I think pterodactyl), Cryodrakon boreas, was recently identified from fossils found in Canada, and has been nicknamed the ‘Cold Dragon of the North Winds.’ The voracious and invasive Lionfish is taking over the Atlantic Ocean, eating through coral reef after coral reef. The monstrous Tibetan Mastiff dogs were bred with Mountain Wolves to be able to survive at super-high altitudes. The Atlantic great white shark has made a comeback since 1997,, when they went under Federal protection, and sharks are being spotted near beaches in the North Atlantic Ocean, just feet from the shoreline. Scientists are now uncovering secrets of an ancient mystery civilization in Saudi Arabia. Experts are skeptical of the claims that a Royal Tortoise lived to the age of 344-years-old.

Entertainment News:

Since we last spoke, we have lost more celebrities. Celebrity chef Carl Ruiz died at age 44. Legendary TV new pioneer, Cokie Roberts, left us at age 76. The frontman and principal singer of the Cars, Ric Ocasek, stopped singing at age 75. Another famous singer, Eddie Money, was laid to rest at age 70. Legendary oil tycoon T. Boone Pickets passed away at age 91. Movie actress Carol Lynley, died at age 77. Songwriter for Destiny’s Child, Tamar Braxton, Brandy, Monica and others, LaShawn Danield, stopped penning hits at age 42. Today (Friday), Diahann Carroll died at age 84.

Justin Bieber has slammed PETA for criticizing his $35,000 exotic cats. Meanwhile, the Biebs did his first country song with Dan + Shay, “10,000 Hours.” Nicky Hilton says Paris Hilton is a “Great Aunt” to her two kids. There is buzz and praise for Joaquin Phoenix’s approach to JOKER, which diverges from the late Heath Ledger’s portrayal and the portrayal by Jack Nicholson. Country music’s new super group is The Highwomen. 56-year-old Phoebe Cates and husband, Kevin Kline, are still going strong. Grey Anatomy’s breakup is turning bitter. Rachel Lindsay vows to never be a friends with Raven Gates again. Miley Cyrus was spotted kissing Cody Simpson, just two weeks after Kaitlynn Carter split. Queer Eye stars are mourning the sudden death of their beloved French bulldog mascot. Demi Lovato is apologizing after backlash over her trip to Israel. Travis Scott’s rumored mistress is denying involvement in his split with Kylie Jenner. Meanwhile, Khloe Kardashian has “no interest” in reconciling with Tristan Thompson. Actor James Franco has been accused of sexually exploiting female students at his acting school. Prince Harry just publicly reprimanded a British reporter amid ongoing tensions. Joe Giudice has been granted an Italy travel request amid deportation appeal. Josh Duhamel and Miss World America Audra Mari confirm their romance with a steamy public kiss. Fixer Upper fans (and I am one) will rejoice to hear that Chip and Joanna Gaines are opening a hotel. Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Lopez, and Jennifer Aniston have made 50 the new 30. Actor Robert De Niro has been hit with a $12 million sex discrimination and harassment lawsuit from former assistant. Cynthia Erivo plays Aretha Franklin in National Geographic Channel’s Genius series. Below Deck Mediterranean had its finale, which was good for Joao, promoted to Captain by Captain Sandy, but not good for Hannah, as the First Steward was told she doesn’t have a passion for yachting. It was a good season. Now, Below Deck Caribbean begins with Captain Lee, but in Thailand. My Chicago series have all begun bloodily: Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD. Model Gigi Hadid and Tyler Cameron officially split after whirlwind 2 months. Jeff Probst is calling out CBS for spoiling Survivor. They must be in their 25th season by now.

AVENGERS: ENDGAME has started its Oscar campaign for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay, but nothing for Acting. The box-office was weak this past weekend. Debuting at No.1 was ABOMINABLE, with $20.6 million. No.2 was DOWNTON ABBE, the screen adaptation of the wildly popular TV series, which made another $14.3 million in its second week. HUSTLERS continued to make money, raking in another $11.3 million for No.3, in its 3rd week (total of $80.5 million for a $20 million film). No.4 went to IT: CHAPTER TWO, with $10.2 million in its 4th week. Rounding out the top 5 was AD ASTRA, with $10 million in its second week. Another notable debut in limited theaters was JUDY, about Judy Garland, which was only in 461 theaters but made $2.9 million.

This weekend sees the debut of the latest DC Comics adaptation of JOKER, which has generated a lot of attention and is expected to take a shot at the October opening record. That record is held by last year’s VENOM, which made $80.25 million in its debut. Universal’s ABOMINABLE is expected to take No.2, and Universal’s DOWNTON ABBEY in No.3. Other movies opening this week in theaters: WAR, THE CLIMBERS, ASURAN, MY PEOPLE/MY COUNTRY, EL COYOTE, LUCY IN THE SKY, DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, CHANAKYA, OPEN, ROGER WATERS US + THEM, PAIN AND GLORY, SEMPER FI, MEMORY:THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN, 100% KAADHAL, THE PARTS YOU LOSE, CUCK, LOW TIDE, ROGUE WARFARE, WRINKLES THE CLOWN, BATTLE OF JANGSARI, A UNICORN ADVENTURE, WALLFLOWER, and AMERICAN GHANDI.

Martin Scorcese said that the DC and Marvel comic books films are “not cinema”.

Technology & Space News:

Are they going to come up with a 12-step program for this Amazon Prime? It’s seriously like (for all you youngsters) the old Home Shopping Network or QVC on steroids! You search for something on the Internet, find the best price, and click Buy Now, and it arrives the next day! It’s like Ebay without the auction and wait, no offense to those other companies. I can see how this could be very addictive to other people. HP Inc.’s new CEO has unveiled plans to streamline the computer/printer company, including cutting its workforce by as much as 16% over the next 3 years (about 7,000-9,000 people). In Forbes 400, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos tops the list of richest people in the US. Microsoft is showcasing an Android Surface phone. Bed Bath & Beyond is escalating store closings, as it ramps up its online store. GM has debuted its 2020 Corvette Stingray convertible. Ford has debuted its new throwback 2020 Mustang. The US government wants private Whatsapp texts from Facebook. Sony’s cloud video game service has gotten a price cut. The small city of Catalina Island does not sell Windows or Macintosh or smartphones, and the connectivity can be really spotty for the 4,400 inhabitants. But, Catalina Island is featured for the next year as the new Apple computer operating system update, called macOS Catalina, which will feature wallpaper with a beautiful photo of the island, much to the delight of its inhabitants. Apple historically updates its software each year with the name of a different California landmark. Apple had its big annual event right after I wrote the last Repo Commentary. So, if you missed it, Apple Arcade came out to help you enjoy games, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 11 and Apple Watch Series 5 arrived in stores in 3rd week of September. The new version (Gen 7) of the most popular iPad, featuring a 10.2-inch Retina Display, Smart Keyboard, and Apple Pencil Support hit stores about a week later. iPadOS also became available as free software update for iPad Air 2 and later, all iPad Pro models, iPad 5th Gen and later, And iPad mini 4 and later. Apple Antara opened its doors to Mexico City on 9/27. Apple-launched China Clean Energy Fund invested in 3 wind farms on 9/24. Apple’s new Mac Pro will be made in Texas. Apple’s Fifth Avenue store has its cube back. An unidentified ring-shaped object just floated by the International Space Station.

US News:

An impeachment inquiry has been launched into President Trump. The case of the ex-cop in Dallas who entered the wrong apartment and found a man there who she thought was and intruder, drew on him, and killed him, went to the jury today for sentencing. No doubt, the in-court apology by her to the victim’s brother, who forgave her and then came across the courtroom to give her a long hug, weighed heavily on the jury. 60 Minutes will tell the story this Sunday of the Texas Ranger who convinced serial killer, Samuel Little, to confess to murdering 93 women. Cops are hunting for a Speedo-clad man haunting Kent State sorority. Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, is still in the hospital after collapsing at a function and having emergency heart surgery. It was bound to happen sooner or later, an Oregon burglar was arrested by police, confessing to using a drone for aerial recon (case) potential burglary targets. Strange lights off the Outer Banks have sparked a debate about aliens or military operations. NYPD has stepped up video surveillance in subways. The Supreme Court has taken up a major Louisiana abortion case. Homeland Security is moving all biometric data to Amazon Cloud. 19 members of US Army 82nd Airborne were injured in a parachuting helicopter crash in Mississippi during training.

International News:

Terror inquiry has been launched into the killing of 4 police employees by a colleague in Paris on Thursday. Thousands of theater goers are protesting Hong Kong’s new emergency measure of banning face masks in public, particularly during more violent protests and in theaters and public places, amid reports of a teenager being shot with a live round. Ukraine’s President Zelensky, looking at a phased peace deal with Russian-backed rebels in the east, is planning a frontline troop withdrawal. The Iraq PM says there is “no magic solution” to unrest in the country, after days of violent protests. An Antonov-12 transport plane crash-landed near Lviv airport in western Ukraine, killing at least 5 people.

Florida:

Right across the street from me, at the Palm Beach Outlet Mall, a worker at Bird in the Hand, and in-store restaurant at Whole Foods, owned by the man who owns the food delivery service Go Cravy, was arrested for stealing a company check and attempting to deposit at a nearby TD Bank for $100,000.

I am usually singing a National Anthem, singing in my 6-part harmony group Generation Gap, and/or doing an Elvis Presley gig, each week here in Palm Beach County, FL. I think I have 3 gigs in the month of October and I did finally break down and buy a performance wig, because of the receding grey hair. However, if you were inclined to see much more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there were many acts which came to Florida this year, perhaps when you were visiting (I should be getting updated schedules for each venue soon for Q4 and 2020):

The Temptations-Fort Lauderdale, January 31
Don McLean-Immokalee, January 31
Michael Bolton-Fort Lauderdale, February 2
The Four Tops and the Temptations-West Palm Beach, February 2
Melissa Manchester-Aventura, February 8
Michael Bolton-West Palm Beach, February 8
The Commodores-Miami, February 9
Patti LaBelle-Fort Myers, February 11
Duran Duran-Miami Beach, February 12
Franki Valli & the Four Seasons, Hollywood, February 14
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14
Dave Mason-Fort Lauderdale, February 15
Little River Band-Fort Myers, February 15
Michael Buble-Sunrise, February 16 (I would like to go)
Alan Parsons Project-Fort Lauderdale, February 18
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes-Bonita Springs, February 20
Art Garfunkel-Fort Lauderdale, February 20
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Sarah Brightman-Hollywood, February 20
PGA Honda Classic-PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, February 28-March 2
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (it was fantastic!)
Sara Mclachlan-March 1, West Palm Beach
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band-Sunrise, March 17
Steve Miller Band-Hollywood, March 17
Tony Bennett-Miami, March 21
Palm Beach International Boat Show-West Palm Beach, March 28-March 31
Jackson Browne-West Palm Beach, April 3
Abba The Concert-Miami Beach, April 4
The Rolling Stones-Miami, April 20
Whitesnake-Fort Lauderdale, April 25
Slayer-West Palm Beach, May 11
Rascal Flatts-West Palm Beach, May 23
Ariana Grande-Orlando, May 29
Ozzie Osbourne & Megadeth-Sunrise, May 31
Hootie & the Blowfish-West Palm Beach, June 8
Florence and The Machine-Miami, June 9
Train & Goo Goo Dolls-West Palm Beach, July 6
Hugh Jackman-Sunrise, July 6
Jeff Lynnes’ Electric Light Orchestra-Sunrise, July 9
New Kids on the Block, Salt N Pepa, Naughty by Nature-Sunrise, July 14
Iron Maiden-Sunrise, July 18
Dave Matthews Band-West Palm Beach, July 26
Jennifer Lopez-Miami, July 26
Korn & Alice in Chains-West Palm Beach, July 28
Shawn Mendes-Miami, July 28
Queen & Adam Lambert-Sunrise, August 17
Florida Georgia Line-West Palm Beach, August 29
Peter Frampton-West Palm Beach, September 6
Dane Cook-Fort Lauderdale, September 28
jkidwell561 Uncategorized Leave a comment October 4, 2019 52 MinutesEdit “Repo Commentary-10/4/19”

Repo Commentary-10/4/19

IMG_3969IMG_3945IMG_3946IMG_3948IMG_3951IMG_3952IMG_3955IMG_3956IMG_3959IMG_3960IMG_3961IMG_3964IMG_3966IMG_3967IMG_3968IMG_3970IMG_3973IMG_3978IMG_3979IMG_3892IMG_3942IMG_3934IMG_3903IMG_3904IMG_3906IMG_3908IMG_3910IMG_3911IMG_3912IMG_3913IMG_3915IMG_3922IMG_3923IMG_3954

No, I am NOT retired. I will be seeing many of you here in Boca Raton, FL at the RMA Conference in October. It is currently in the upper 80s, very windy, and quite humid, but sunny. My name may pop a few times in the news, prior to the conference. They couldn’t find any Repo expert old enough to know how the Repo market was ‘back in the days’ and who could explain why there has been so much volatility in (something that happens about every decade, according to my good friend and colleague/partner from MS).

Meanwhile, did Summer really go by that fast? I remember speaking to a really smart quant one time in, I don’t know, maybe Newport Beach, CA, and he said that “the velocity of time increases with age.” I don’t know if he was just right or he somehow cursed me, but every season is faster than the last year and every year is faster than the prior ten years! Or, so it seems. I know y’all (I am now a Floridian) in places like Maine or the UP have a brief week or two between Winter and, well Winter.

My Repo Commentary is posted free (it’s actually always been free) on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I’m trying to make it more frequent, but I’ve been swamped.

If you need to reach me, my mobile is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures! I’ll let you in on a secret that I got some of my Redneck Friday photos from a few State Treasurers’ offices. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time. As many of you know, it used to be a daily Repo Commentary back in the 80s and for a long time. But, then again, I used to be younger. I don’t know how I typed this by hand (still do) every single day (and didn’t get fired) and even re-wrote some 200 song lyrics to current market activity.

Holidays or Events (10/3):

¥ Bring Your Bible to School Day
¥ Look at the Leaves Day
¥ National Butterfly and Hummingbird Day
¥ National Boyfriend Day
¥ National Caramel Custard Day
¥ Mean Girls Appreciation Day (a weird social media celebration of the film)
¥ National Poetry Day
¥ National Techies Day
¥ National Virus Appreciation Day
¥ German Unity Day (in Germany)
¥ Morazan Day in Honduras
¥ National Day (independence of Iraq from the UK)
¥ National Foundation Day (South Korea)

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Monday (9/29-10/1) was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (Head of the Year). Next week (10/8-10/9) is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

Some Famous People Born on 10/3 in History:

¥ 85 BC- Gaius Cassius Longinus- Roman politician (died at age 43
¥ 1900-Thomas Wolfe-American novelist
¥ 1925-Gore Vidal-American novelist
¥ 1925-George Wein-American pianist/producer, co-founded Newport Folk Festival
¥ 1938-Eddie Cochran-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor
¥ 1940-Jean Ratelle-Canadian hockey player and coach
¥ 1941-Chubby Checker-American singer-songwriter
¥ 1946-P.P. Arnold-American soul singer
¥ 1947-Ben Cauley-American trumpet player and songwriter
¥ 1947-Fred DeLuca-American businessman, co-founded Subway
¥ 1949-Lindsey Buckingham-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer
¥ 1951-Keb’ Mo-American blues musician and songwriter
¥ 1951-Kathryn D. Sullivan-American geologist and astronaut
¥ 1951-Dave Winfield-MLB player and sportscaster
¥ 1954-Dennis Eckersley-MLB player and sportscaster
¥ 1954-Al Sharpton-American minister, talks show host, political activist
¥ 1954-Stevie Ray Vaughan-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer
¥ 1959-Fred Couples-American golfer
¥ 1959-Jack Wagner-American actor and singer
¥ 1962-Tommy Lee-Greek-American singer-songwriter, drummer, and producer
¥ 1964-Clive Owen-English actor
¥ 1969-Gwen Stefani-American singer-songwriter, actress, fashion designer
¥ 1969-Tetsuya-Japanese singer-songwriter, bass player, and producer
¥ 1970-Jimmy Ray-English singer-songwriter and guitarist
¥ 1971-Wil Cordero-Puerto Rican-American MLB player and coach
¥ 1971-Kevin Richardson-American singer-songwriter and actor
¥ 1973-Neve Campbell-Canadian actress and producer
¥ 1973-Lena Headey-British actress
¥ 1984-Ashlee Simpson-American singer-songwriter and actress

This Day in History (10/3):

¥ 2457 BC- Gaecheonjeol, Hwanung purportedly descended from Heaven, celebrated as South Korea’s National Foundation Day.
• 52 BC-Vercingetorix, leader of the Gauls, surrenders to the Romans under Julius Caesar, ending the siege and battle of Alesia.
¥ 42 BC-Triumvirs Mark Antony and Octavian fight a decisive battle with Caesar’s assassins Brutus and Cassius.
¥ 382-Roman Emperor Theodosius I concludes a peace treaty with the Goths and settles them in the Balkans.
¥ 1283-Dafydd ap Gruffydd, prince of Gwynedd in Wales, is the first nobleman to be executed by hanging, drawing and quartering.
¥ 1683-Qing dynasty naval commander Shi Lang receives the surrender of the Tungning kingdom on Taiwan after the Battle of Penghu.
¥ 1712-the Treaty of Nis is signed by the Ottoman Empire and Russia at the end of the Russian-Turkish War.
¥ 1789-George Washington declares a Thanksgiving Day for that year.
¥ 1795-Slave rebel leader Tula is executed in Curacao.
¥ 1863-the last Thursday in November is declared as the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day by US President Abraham Lincoln.
¥ 1873-Chief Kintpuash and companions are hanged for their part in the Modoc War of northern California.
¥ 1912-US forces defeat Nicaraguan rebels at the Battle of Coyotepe Hill.
¥ 1918-King Boris III of Bulgaria accedes to the throne.
¥ 1919-Cincinnati Reds pitcher Adolfo Luque becomes the first Latin player to appear in the World Series.
¥ 1929-the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes is renamed as Yugoslavia.
¥ 1932-Iraq gains independence from the United Kingdom.
¥ 1935-Second Italo-Abyssinian War: Italy invades Ethiopia.
¥ 1943-World War II: German forces murder 92 civilians in Lyngiades, Greece.
¥ 1949-WERD, the first black-owned radio station in the US, opens in Atlanta.
¥ 1951-Korean War: the First Battle of Maryang San pits Commonwealth troops against communist Chinese troops.
¥ 1952-the UK successfully tests a nuclear weapon to become the world’s third nuclear power.
¥ 1963-a violent coup in Honduras begins two decades of military rule.
¥ 1978-a Finnish Air Force DC-3 crashes, killing all aboard (12 VIP passengers and 3 crew).
¥ 1981-the hunger strike at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland ends after 7 months and 10 deaths.
¥ 1985-the Space Shuttle Atlantis makes its maiden flight.
¥ 1990-the German Democratic Republic is abolished and becomes part of the Federal Republic of Germany.
¥ 1993-an American attack against a warlord in Mogadishu fails. 18 attackers and over 350 Somalis die.
¥ 2008-the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 for the US financial system is signed by President George W. Bush.
¥ 2009-Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgzstan, and Turkey join together in the Turkic Council.
¥ 2013-at least 134 migrants are killed when their boat sinks near the Italian island of Lampedusa.
¥ 2015-42 people are killed and 33 go missing in the Kunduz hospital strike.

Daily Weird Facts:

Actor Frankie Muniz suffers from long term memory loss and doesn’t remember being on Malcolm in the Middle.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.”—Winston Churchill

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5
$47.66/barrel on 12/23
$48.63 on 01/07
$52.31/barrel on 01/16
$55.26/barrel on 2/3
$55.41/barrel on 2/26
$73.77/barrel on 4/29
$63.28/barrel on 5/17
$54.07/barrel on 6/18
$55.96/barrel on 7/24
$58.31/barrel on 9/10
$53.50/barrel on 10/2

The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station has slowly climbed since Hurricane Dorian to $2.39/gallon, despite the drop in oil prices during the same period. Most of the other stations in the area are 40-70 cents more per gallon.

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all Repo Commentary dates):

112.20 on 12/24
108.60 on 01/07
109.07 on 01/16
103.18 on 02/03
104.86 on 2/25
103.86 on 5/17
102.59 on 6/18
102.43 on 7/24
101.72 on 9/10
102.16 on 10/02

One Euro was trading on:

12/24 at $1.1426
01/07 at $1.1478
01/16 at $1.1396
02/03 at $1.2047
02/25 at $1.1955
05/17 at $1.1761
06/18 at $1.1825
07/24 at $1.1740
09/10 at $1.1623
10/02 at $1.1504

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24 at $1.2655
01/07 at $1.2770
01/16 at $1.2880
02/03 at $1.3758
02/25 at $1.3728
05/17 at $1.3427
06/18 at $1.3157
07/24 at $1.3070
09/10 at $1.2959
10/02 at $1.2882

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24
1.3297 on 01/07
1.3255 on 01/16
1.2492 on 2/03
1.2492 on 2/25
1.2800 on 5/17
1.2740 on 6/18
1.2480 on 7/24
1.2520 on 9/10
1.2560 on 10/02

Gold closed on 9/09 at $1504.90/ounce. On 10/02, it closed at $1498.70/ounce.

Bitcoin was trading at (Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25
$6,350 on 10/5
$3,774.97 on 12/24/18
$3,7774.97 on 01/07
$3,598.90 on 01/16
$3,421.10 on 02/06
$3,826.44 on 02/26
$8,100.00 on 05/16
$7,215.79 on 05/17
$9,088.59 on 06/18
$11,919.30 on 06/25
$9,790.37 on 07/24
$10,183.90 on 09/10
$8,235.46 on 10/02

After rebounding dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer, rallied during the Summer, and recently has tumbled again in the past month.

Global Financial News:

The recent deal with the Trump Administration puts Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on course to break free of government conservatorship and allows them to retain earnings. The US unemployment rate just fell to a 50-year low today. The figures run counter to recent economic data that was pointing to the US heading for a recession. The EU is readying its response to tariffs imposed by the US, after the WTO ruled that the US could retaliate against the EU subsidies to aircraft manufacturer Airbus. Advisory firms are being urged to act a “digital safeguards” and train employees and clients on cybersecurity and reviewing software vendors’ security. In an ironic twist, the FSB, who originally pushed for tough industry regulations, is now saying that cutting back banks’ loss reserves/equity/capital that they have to hold, to reduce the likelihood of a government bailout during systemic crisis, would help make the global economy more stable. That comes from Randal Quarles, chairman of the FSB and vice chairman of supervision at the Federal Reserve, saying “We have set our [loss-absorbing capacity] too high.” Fed’s Clarida said monetary policy is “not on a preset course.” Trade groups and financial institutions are calling for action to deal with unnecessary fragmentation that regulations have created, in some cased unintended consequences. The Federal Reserve will discuss changes to bank supervision, including ones that will ease regulations for mid-size and regional banks. Living Will requirements are also expected to change and become based on bank size. EU and Ireland say that the UK must make more concessions to get a Brexit deal, making it appear that British PM Boris Johnson’s proposal is not likely to lead to a deal. CFPB has added members to its advisory boards, reversing former acting Director Mulvaney’s efforts to dismantle some of the boards of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In Pensions & Investments, a new survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies shows that only 17% of employers are “very” confident about their employees’ retirement security. 23% of employers said they were “not too” confident, and 6% were “not at all” confident. Philadelphia Fed president Patrick Harker said that the use of digital currencies by central banks is “inevitable.” Falling yields on US Treasuries and German Bunds, fueled by strong appetite for ‘save haven’ securities and Easing by the Federal Reserve, suggest the global economy is in trouble and inflation is set to remain low. The pace of the expansion of the US services sector has slowed to a 3-year low in September, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The first 4 IPOs since WeWork’s planned offering collapsed and Peloton shares dropped post-IPO, demonstrate that investors appear to be losing interest in startups going public, per Bloomberg News. Slowing in US manufacturing activity and private-sector hiring, along with a weakening economy and growing trade strife, are making analysts bearish on industrial stocks.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones (global stocks as well), along with other stock indices, were enjoying record or near-record highs in late July 2019 (feeding off of earnings reports, US budget progress, and the Fed switching to easing monetary policy) but then corrected some 10% in August 2019, due to global political unrest and tariff/trade wars. Since August, it has been turbulent, but given the turmoil in the Repo Market, Fed easing, and lower yields/higher issuance in the US Treasury market, one would have expected some reallocation to stocks.

The Dow Jones closed at (Repo Commentary Dates):

26,656.77 on 9/20/18
26,447.05 on 10/5/18
21,792.20 on 12/23/18
21,712.53 on 12/26/18
24,207.16 on 01/16/19
25,063.89 on 2/06/19
26,106.47 on 2/25/19
25,862.68 on 5/16/19
26,465.54 on 6/18/19
27,269.97 on 7/24/19
26,793.09 on 9/10/19
26,229.31 on 10/02/19 down 343.73 points as I write this

S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20/18 of 2,930.66, then marched back up to a new high on 7/24/19, only to correct to nearly 2,800 three times in August, before rising again to near the highs, closing on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58
12/26/18 at 2,467.70
01/07/19 at 2,549.69
01/16/19 at 2,616.10
02/06/19 at 2,706.53
02/25/19 at 2,799.34
05/16/19 at 2,876.32
06/18/19 at 2,917.75
07/24/19 at 3,019.56 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 2,969.04
10/02/19 at 2,906.94 down 33.31 as I write this

Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28/18 high of 8,030.04, closing on:

10/5/18 at 7,788.45
12/26/18 at 6,554.36
01/07/19 at 6,823.47
01/16/19 at 7,034.70
02/06/19 at 7,263.87
02/25/19 at 7,561.87
05/16/19 at 7,898.05
06/18/19 at 7,953.68
07/24/19 at 8,321.50 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 8,043.58
10/02/19 at 7,809.22 down 99.46 as I write this

US Treasury yields have been in free-fall since hitting highs in October 2018.

2 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.88%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.53%
01/16/19 at 2.55%
02/06/19 at 2.52%
02/22/19 at 2.48%
05/16/19 at 2.20%
06/18/19 at 1.86%
07/24/19 at 1.83%
09/09/19 at 1.58%
10/01/19 at 1.56%

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%
12/18/18 at 2.64%
01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)
01/16/19 at 2.53%
02/06/19 at 2.50%
02/22/19 at 2.46%
05/16/19 at 2.15%
06/18/19 at 1.80%
07/24/19 at 1.79%
09/09/19 at 1.52%
10/01/19 at 1.51%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.49%
01/16/19 at 2.54%
02/06/19 at 2.51%
02/22/19 at 2.47%
05/16/19 at 2.18%
06/18/19 at 1.83%
07/24/19 at 1.82%
09/09/19 at 1.49%
10/01/19 at 1.51%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%
12/18/18 at 2.74%
01/07/19 at 2.60%
01/16/19 at 2.62%
02/06/19 at 2.59%
02/22/19 at 2.55%
05/16/19 at 2.28%
06/18/19 at 1.93%
07/24/19 at 1.93%
09/09/19 at 1.57%
10/01/19 at 1.59%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%
12/18/18 at 2.82%
01/07/19 at 2.70%
01/16/19 at 2.73%
02/06/19 at 2.70%
02/22/19 at 2.65%
05/16/19 at 2.40%
06/18/19 at 2.06%
07/24/19 at 2.05%
09/09/19 at 1.83%
10/01/19 at 1.65% dramatic drop in one month!

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%
12/18/18 at 3.07%
01/07/19 at 2.99%
01/16/19 at 3.07%
02/06/19 at 3.03%
02/22/19 at 3.02%
05/16/19 at 2.84%
06/18/19 at 2.55%
07/24/19 at 2.58%
09/10/19 at 2.11%
10/01/19 at 2.11%

US Treasury yields have virtually disappeared in the last 2 months and market participants got another 25bp rate cut at the 9/18 FOMC meeting, and are expecting yet another cut before year-end. Timing is perfect for record issuance by the US Treasury, so it will pay less interest on its debt, and as it’s mulling over issuing much longer maturities at these cycle low interest rates. But, there is a ‘Catch-22’: the rates are low, so, great for issuance and great for Treasury; but who will buy the securities if they have too low a yield versus other investments?

Housing News:

The NY Times officially declared the Manhattan real estate a “buyers’ market”. Hmmm, the brokers on Million Dollar Listing-NYC had declared that a season ago. Anyway, the volume of sales and the prices of condos and co-ops (I had a cond-op, ugh) fell sharply in Q3, in almost every real estate category in Manhattan. As the NYT points out, some of this was due to the transfer-tax rates for luxury apartments that went into effect in July. Volume of Sales in Q3 was down 14.2% year/year and median sales prices fell 8.2% to $1,025,000. Compass pointed out that in Q3, properties stayed an average of 152 days on the market, the longest since 2012. Back to that transfer-tax rate (also referred to as the ‘mansion tax’), it is a tax on sales above $1 million with staggered percentage tax from 1-3.9%, depending on the sales price of the property. A Michigan real estate agent’s “Scream” themed listing photos have gone viral. REALTOR Magazine reports that single-story ranch homes are becoming more desirable that they once were. Analysts expect lower mortgage rates to buoy buyer demand in the Fall months, as the bright spot in a worrisome economy. A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that some buyers may be better off using a digital mortgage, which reduces discrimination. A new study says that 17% of young homebuyers regret their purchases.

Repo News:

I am guessing that this is the first time for many to actually scroll down to the Repo Market section of the Repo Commentary first, rather than Entertainment or Sports. Well, I guess that’s understandable. We have been experiencing those once-in-a-decade volatile periods in the Securities Finance Market that suddenly put the word “Repo” on the front pages of Bloomberg, WSJ, and NY Times, baffling hundreds of millions of people around the world. I intended to write this Repo Commentary a week ago, but got a deluge of calls from clients, colleagues, and media about the current state of affairs. It’s nice to be needed and the first call when there is trouble in our Securities Financing industry, to an extent.

I had to laugh when Invesco’s Vice Chairman of Investments, Krishna Memani, wrote on LinkedIn, “get a repo trader going and he will regale—and bore—you to death-with stories about the inner workings of the money market. And within 10 minutes, you will be talking about the repo market during the financial crisis as if it happened yesterday.” I think he was specifically directing that at me! Well, “repo” is the lubricant of the money market system, particularly the issuance of US Treasuries and other bonds, and it only comes up in conversation among non-participants when the gears start squeaking or fail to function, like yelling for WD 40. And, the last time the general public heard about “repo” it was during the Financial Crisis. Okay, there, I said it, I proved Mr. Memani right.

I know you’ve seen many articles on the subject of current repo market illiquidity and volatility, I’ve read them too. I think I can summarize them all and add my almost 37 years of experience in the Securities Finance market to lay out the causes and possible solutions.

To look at the WHY, one need look at what has happened since the Financial Crisis.

¥ The regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve, instituted emergency liquidity programs for different sectors of the money market (CP, Corporate Bonds, Broker/Dealers, GSEs, etc.). They eventually unwound those many programs.
¥ They opened up for a brief time the Discount Window to more participants and without the previous stigma attached, for collateral providers to access cash.
¥ They put FNMA and FHLMC into conservatorship.
¥ They began easing Monetary Policy massively for years.
¥ They began Quantitative Easing and built up the Fed’s balance sheet to $4.5 trillion. They added to it by buying more securities every month from the paydowns on their MBS portfolio.
¥ They propped up some broker/dealers, allowed some to fail, and helped others to consolidate/merge.
¥ The Repo Market shrunk in the US from about $7 trillion to $3 trillion, before recent increase to about $3.6 trillion.
¥ Regulators instituted mountains of new reforms, especially the 310 new rules of Dodd-Frank, globally to decrease the likelihood of systemic risk in the financial system and to force, particularly the broker/dealers and GSIB banks to hold more capital/reserves for liquidity.
¥ The market began looking for alternatives to financing through broker/dealers via CCPs, peer-to-peer financing, Sponsored Repo, and electronic trading platforms.
¥ The Fed began its much hailed RRP program, which added over 300 cash providers from the Repo market to finance the Fed’s balance sheet and provide ‘liquidity’ for those cash providers.
¥ The Fed stopped QE and began reducing their balance sheet down to $2.5 trillion.
¥ The US Treasury began ramping up issuance to the tune of about $1 trillion more, which is funneled through the 24 primary broker/dealers and the central banks.
¥ The Fed began tightening monetary policy and tinkering with new measures of repo rates and LIBOR replacement. They also began tinkering with the Interest on Excess Reserves (IOER) from banks and credit unions, to try to create higher reserves.
¥ The Fed did an about face and began easing monetary policy. They also lowered IOER.
That’s not everything that happened, but that gives you the broad strokes. And just in those bullet points, I see many of the contributing factors of the recent dislocation of the repo market. And, by the way, that actually refutes Mr. Memani’s later comment that “Nothing much has happened in the money markets since financial crisis. A lot more happened in those 11 years than happened in the 26 years that I was in the money markets.

I believe the reasons we had dislocations over the last week or so in repo rates, up as high as 10% the first day and 6% the second day, despite the Fed easing the target to 1.75%-2.00% the third day, and coming in with Overnight Open Market Operations (which they used to do daily—Customer RPs, System RPs, Match Sales—which was how we used to determined what they were doing with Monetary Policy, based on whether they were adding reserves or removing reserves and to what extent, but I won’t “bore” you), come down to a major imbalance of bank reserves, behavior not consistent with expectation, illiquidity in the repo market (rather than the highly touted increase in liquidity), concentration risk, a corporate tax date that removed cash from the repo market, humongous new supply of US treasuries being issued, many Repo market participants out of the Federal Reserve direct loop, and a mountain of hundreds of new regulations that broker/dealers (and others) are trying to still absorb and position reserves/capital, personnel, and trading strategies for. As you can see, there are a lot of balls in the air!

I’m not sure why participants and regulators didn’t foresee an imbalance (lack of) bank reserves. The piles of new regulations that regulators gave to the money markets fundamentally required banks to hold more reserves versus balance sheets (which repo is the major contributor to), the low yields may have encouraged banks to use reserves elsewhere in more profitable areas than repo (they are profit-motivated, as they should be), and the Fed lowered the IOER which may have disincented banks from depositing reserves at the Fed. The decrease in the Fed’s balance sheet came at the cost of the market absorbing those securities. The US Treasury issuing phenomenal amounts of securities that have to be taken by the 24 primary dealers (already full up on balance sheets they are trying to reduce) and the central banks/swfs (who already have $14 trillion of US Treasuries, should have been know as a potential clog in the system. Plus, with the Fed lowering rates, the returns on those US Treasuries would be lower for those new owners. And the central banks ownership of US Treasuries is another complicated story, one of ripple effects. They can’t really sell US Treasuries into this market, without having some issue with the US Government, whichever branch. But, yet, many of them need to support their currency, particularly against the US Dollar. So, some of them enter the Repo market to repo the US Treasuries to receive US Dollars to then buy their own currencies with, propping up their currency by kicking the can somewhat down the road, until their GDP rises or oil prices rise (raising their specific GDP). Layer over that macroeconomic soup a topping of trade wars and tariffs, it becomes rather complex to predict. And, that brings me to my last observation, that unintended consequences arose from the hundreds of regulations foisted on the money market, mainly because market behavior is not that predictive. Regulators thought that if they made the system safer, more investors would come in, but yet the repo market didn’t grow that much, but yet supply from the Fed and from the US Treasury increased dramatically. Regulators thought that if the banks had more reserves and capital, they would pass that on to the buyside, but that didn’t take into account their profit motivations and individual bank idiosyncricies. Lastly, the regulators didn’t expect the perfect storm of added supply, taxes withdrawn, cash out of the system, reserves lower, and tools that would work directly only on the 24 primary dealers and the 300 cash providers in RRP. I’ve been remarking for years, since the RRP, that there was not a comparable program for collateral providers/leveraged players in the Repo market. Steve Malekian went further to say, a year ago, that the newly touted liquidity of the Repo market was “only for Platinum accounts.” It was only for select buyside clients.

So, the Fed needs to do something. And, I don’t mean just the Overnight operations with the 24 primary dealers. I can’t even predict what those dealers’ positions are or how the added liquidity would flow to the buyside clients. The extra cash could be used to fund their Swaps desk, the Repo Desk, other outright traders, Platinum accounts, or speculatively with leveraged accounts (as a few savvy broker/dealers have seen that opportunity and gone short to reverse in at higher rates from leveraged accounts and supply balance sheet). The point is that the mound of regulations and the open market operations and the tinkering with the IOER are supposed to impact banks and broker/dealers in such a way to induce certain behavior, but behavior is unique. So, the Fed needs to go back to its ample toolkit (and get people who have been there at least 10 years) to:
¥ Implement more term RPs, to give the market some faith and reduce Fed reputational risk
¥ Purchase securities, either US Treasuries or Agency MBS, increasing the Fed balance sheet (although this may be difficult because there were probably several good reasons why they decreased it.)
¥ Open the Discount Window to more participants, with NO stigma attached (it used to be how one in the market knew who was having a liquidity crisis), and other sectors represented.
¥ Create a collateral provider facility, similar to RRP, or help reduce the hurdles, like CCLF for CCPs and Sponsored Repo type ventures to increase liquidity.
¥ Tinker the IOER rate UP, rather than down, to increase the Reserves at the Fed.
¥ Support/encourage Repo done outside of the 24 primary dealers, helping collateral providers find cash providers, when certain broker/dealers are balance sheet full and capital restrained from the very regulations that the Fed was involved in. I hope that didn’t come out too angry. I think systemic risk reduction is a huge priority and I am worried about firesale risk (although I don’t think moving the sale down the road to 7 days or 30 days changes firesale risk, it just changes the date of the firesale).
Okay, you made it through my diatribe. Sorry for the verbosity or if I ‘bored’ you. The bottom line is that the money markets, particularly the securities finance market (Repo & Securities Lending) is still trying to find its footing, particularly as the Repo market has shrunk, while Treasury supply has increased.

I still see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for ALL collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers, which has been volatile but certainly widened since the Financial Crisis, and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis, which not only subjected clients to dealer defaults and wider spreads, but in many cases directly impacted clients by making them suddenly the outright traders of repo collateral. Some of that collateral, on top of it, was very illiquid. Not knowing who the other clients were on the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book, and who could potentially bring down those intermediary dealers was costly for many clients. Clearly, with that pipeline of is intermediation becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets (which has recovered partially with new entrants to the market and international banks’ increases due to regulatory arbitrage) being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be explored for cash provider and collateral provider clients. My former baby, AVM’s Direct Repo™, was the first of one of such pathways, over 10 years ago. Since then, many other liquidity pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agented repo through seclending agents and some prime brokers to buyside clients, direct lending from beneficial owners to hedge funds who are short via their agents, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations of their custodial clients, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like (Elixium, BNY DBVX, State Street’s Cash Cross), FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products for certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, dealer to dealer and some clients electronic trading platforms (like GLMX, HQLA, and Tradeweb), other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (particularly in Europe, like Eurex, LCH, OCC, CME, etc.), total return swaps platforms (like WeMatch.com), and collateralized loan exchanges like AFX/CBOE. There have still been other firms that have created some king of product that mimics a repo, but yet doesn’t show up on dealers’ balance sheets (so helps them), and/or provides better credit counterparties (so helps clients), and can take many forms. I believe this overall evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used in some part, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers. Some of that balance sheet has returned, as I mentioned above, but maybe for only select ‘platinum’ clients and may come at a higher bid/offer spread or in specific, more profitable products/securities, as other market observers/experts have said.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:
 

• Deutsche Borse/Clearstream held its annual conference this week in Luxembourg, which I attended last year.
• IMN 25th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference was held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/5-2/6. I was chosen as the Chairperson.
• Finadium held a new conference on the Business of Collateral Trading in Frankfurt, Germany on 2/21.
• IMN held its annual Fixed Income Investor Network in Las Vegas on 2/24.
• iMoneyNet held its annual MMExpo in Middleburg, VA 3/4-3/6.
• PASLA/RMA held its 16th annual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia 3/5-3/7.
• GIOA held its 15th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/20-3/22.
• Crane Data held its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Philadelphia on 3/25-3/26.
• Finadium held its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
• GFOA held its 113th annual conference in Los Angeles on 5/19-5/22.
• Securities Lending Times held its annual Securities Finance Technology Symposium in London on 5/9.
• IMN held its annual Global ABS conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/11-6/13.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Philadelphia, PA on 6/18-6/20.
• ISLA held its Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Madrid this week.
• Crane Data held its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26 in Boston.
• Hedge Fund Association held its Rooftop Social in NYC on 6/27.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/17-9/19.
• IHS Markit in conjunction with Opal Group will hold a Securities Finance Forum in NYC on 9/17.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 9/22-9/24.
• IMN will hold its annual European Securities Finance conference in London on 9/25-9/26.
• Crane Data will hold its annual European Money Fund Symposium in Dublin, Ireland on 9/23-24.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe in London on 9/24.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in Naples, FL on 10/6-10/9.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its Fixed Income Leaders conference in Barcelona on 10/7-10/9.
• RMA will hold its 37th annual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Boca Raton, FL on October 14-17. I will be seeing many of you there/here. I haven’t missed an RMA and I’m not going to start now!
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its gigantic annual conference in Boston, MA on 10/20-10/23.
• Finadium will hold its Rates & Repo conference in New York on 11/4
• Risk.net will hold its 25th annual Risk USA conference in NYC on November 5-6.
• SIFMA will hold its annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 11/18-11/20.

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 1.75-2.00% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while), after the FOMC lowered it on 7/31/19 and again on 9/18/19. The Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR), as reported by the Federal Reserve, was 1.88% on 10/1/19.

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. That rate on 10/1/19 was 1.85%.

The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is supposed to be a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities. It is also reported by the NY Fed on its website. It has been controversial and has been considered as a possible replacement for LIBOR. SOFR includes trades in the Broad General Collateral Rate of Repo plus bilateral Treasury Repo transactions cleared through the DVP services at CCP FICC, ostensibly filtering out issues trading Special. However, critics (and I am one) say that it only picks up the Offered Side of Repo (not a median), that it only picks up the small amount of DVP transactions cleared at FICC and Triparty Repo done at Bank of NY, ignoring the growing amount of bilateral (non-Triparty) repo being done peer-to-peer, dealer-to-dealer, and client-to-dealer, outside of FICC. It is a good representation of where Money Funds (except for a few savvy ones who trade peer-to-peer) are paid on their cash versus US Treasuries in Repo each day by broker/dealers. It almost completely ignores other sectors, particularly buyside clients with collateral. That all being said, the current SOFR reported by the Fed for 10/1/19 was 1.88%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20.

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15/19, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market. So, if RRP is not extinct, it is certainly now dormant, occasionally coming out of hibernation for year-ends and quarter-ends, when liquidity becomes very strange.

In December 2018, at the FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%
12/13/18 to 2.50%

But, then the Federal Reserve paused. Suddenly, on 7/31/19, the Fed eased the Fed Funds target rate to 2.25%, and then did another rate cut by 0.25% to 2.00% on 9/18/19. Technically, that rate is the top end of a 25bp rate spread that the Fed considers its current target rate (1.75%-2.00%). The reversal in monetary policy is expected to continue, with perhaps one more rate cut by the Fed in 2019.

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For reference, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007, at or near the beginning of the Financial Crisis.

I personally think the Federal Reserve (and the US Treasury) could use an industry consultant with nearly 37 years of experience in the securities financing market and who has worked extensively in sell-side, buy-side, and vender firms, giving him/her a unique and neutral perspective. I know someone like that.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Globally, the Earth’s crust is still very active, especially along the Pacific Rim and in Chile. These are just the earthquakes over the last 3 days! Latest strong earthquakes (4.5 magnitude and above):

10/2 4.8 81km SE of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
10/2 5.1 196km W of Abepura, Indonesia
10/2 5.0 66km NNE of Xujiaba, China
10/2 4.7 Carlsberg Ridge
10/2 5.2 39km S of San Mateo del Mar, Mexico
10/2 4.7 147km W of Coquimbo, Chile
10/2 4.8 223km E of Yamada, Japan
10/1 5.2 Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
10/1 5.5 91km SSW of Macquarie Island
10/1 4.6 79km NW of San Antonio de los Colores, Argentina
10/1 4.5 241km SE of Amahai, Indonesia
10/1 4.5 46km SSE of Caucete, Argentina
10/1 5.2 Broken Ridge
10/1 4.9 254km NNW of Farallon de Pajaros, Nothern Mariana Islands
10/1 5.3 37km SE of Wairoa, New Zealand
10/1 5.9 Southern East Pacific Rise
9/30 4.5 9km NE of Cruz Grande, Mexico
9/30 4.6 58km ESE of Madang, Papua New Guinea
9/30 5.0 94km ESE of Ol’ga, Russia
9/30 4.6 128km SW of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea
9/30 4.7 142km SSE of Lambasa, Fiji
9/30 4.7 140km SSE of Lambasa, Fiji
9/30 4.5 45km N of Arzak, China
9/30 5.6 40km NE of Calama, Chile
9/30 4.7 Kuril Islands
9/30 4.8 158km WNW of Constitucion, Chile
9/30 4.7 42km ESE of General Luna, Philippines
9/30 4.7 50km WSW of Constitucion, Chile
9/30 4.9 121km SW of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1st and ends November 30th. For 2018, Colorado State University experts had predicted an above average season of 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 would become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, there were 15 named Tropical Storms, of which 8 were hurricanes, and 2 of them major. So, they underestimated.

Hurricane officials were warning Floridians to prepare in advance of the 2019 storm season. There are several national meteorological services and scientific agencies that forecast how many named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes (above Category 3). TSR, CSU, and The Weather Company were similar numbers, while NCU was higher. CSU has been the most used and they forecast for 2019 a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. We have already had 12 named storms, and have only just reached the historically busiest month. Hurricane Lorenzo is bearing down on Ireland and Great Britain, having spun North and East from the Caribbean. It still has 80mph winds.

The Hurricane names for the 2019 North Atlantic season are:

Andrea-x
Barry-x
Chantal-x
Dorian-x
Erin-x
Fernand-x
Gabrielle-x
Humberto-x
Imelda-x
Jerry-x
Karen-x
Lorenzo-x
Melissa
Nestor
Olga
Pablo
Rebekah
Sebastian
Tanya
Van
Wendy

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18 and ends 11/1/18.

Eastern North Pacific currently has no activity to report, after just having 3 tropical cyclones come through. Central North Pacific currently has no activity to report.

As for the weather, starting with the heat, after setting an all-time Florida record high average temperature for May, June and July, respectively, temperatures have moderated slightly, by about 5-10 degrees, bringing down the daily heat indices of 105-110. However, after two months of nearly daily thunderstorms, most counties of Florida (including Palm Beach County) set a 100-year record DRY September, with only 1.39 inches of rain here in PBC. I’m sure you saw that wedding picture from Washington State this weekend, in which it snowed on the bride and groom. A massive snowstorm dumped 4 feet of snow on Montana this weekend. Early snows are being seen in the Pacific Northwest and the Rockies. Temperatures are plummeting into the 20s and 30s. Rain is expected over the Plain States, Texas, and Louisiana, where temperatures will be in the 60s and 70s. New York and New England will see rain, some mix, and snow in northern Maine, where temperatures will range between 30s and 50s. Florida should see a pick up in rain and hopefully a lessening of the last 5 days of 30mph winds. Temperatures should moderate in the mid-to-high 80s. The South has been so hot for months that there is now a ‘flash drought’.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season began 3/28 this year and ended on 9/30 (more than 6 months). The Postseason will now begin with one game Wild Card playoffs in both the AL and the NL, then the Wild Card winner against one of the Division winners in both Leagues, followed by Division Championships, and ultimately, the World Series, of the best of the AL and the NL. The 2018 World Series Champion Red Sox did not start well, suffered injuries to starting pitching and loss of both closers to free agency, and became the tenth team to win a World Series and not make the Playoffs the following year. Not unexpectedly, they fired their 3-year GM Dave Dumbowski. They have a lot of key players who will become free agents after the 2020 season, which poses the question of whether they will keep them to win one more time, or follow owner John Henry’s plan to lower payroll for the team and trade key players for the future. This will likely be as painful an off-season for us Red Sox fans, as it was a regular season. The Red Sox president has admitted it will be “difficult” to keep both Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. I think the majority of you readers are Yankee fans (although I never took a poll), so you’re ecstatic that the Yankees have indeed made the Postseason and are one of the strongest contenders, after having fallen just short in 2018.

The Red Sox were obviously not the only team expected to do well that did not do well in 2019, as is evidenced by the 16% drop in MLB attendance in 2019 over 2018. The end of a sports regular season is always coupled with a list of fired coaches and managers and GMs. Here is 2019’s casualty list (and available positions):

¥ Cubs manager-Joe Maddon
¥ Pirates manager-Clint Hurdle
¥ Angels manager-Brad Ausmus
¥ Royals manager
¥ Giants manager-Bruce Bochy
¥ Padres manager-Andy Green
¥ Red Sox GM-Dave Dombrowski
¥ Mets manager-Mickey Callaway

Looking ahead to the playoffs, the Astros had the best record in the AL, beating out the Yankees and Twins. So, the A’s played the Rays in the one-game Wild Card playoff, while the Astros waited for the winner of that game. The Rays won 5-1, eliminating the A’s from the postseason. The Yankees will play the Twins, who they have owned recently. The Indians and Red Sox fell short of the Wild Card playoffs. Today, the ALDS best of 5 series begin with the Rays at the Astros and the Twins at the Yankees. In the NL, the Dodgers, by far, had the best record, over the Braves. The NL Wild Card Playoff game was between the red hot Nationals and the Brewers, who were just eclipsed by the Cardinals for the NL Central. The Nationals had just beaten the Brewers in and exciting game of the final season. Then, on Tuesday night they repeated with another exciting close win over the Brewers, 4-3, eliminating the Brewers from the postseason. The Nationals will now face the Dodgers, and in fact lost Game 1 of their best of 5 NLDS 6-0 on Thursday night. Game 2 is tonight. Meanwhile, the Braves now play Cardinals, and actually lost Game 1 7-6 on Thursday night, in their best of 5 NLDS. Game 2 is tonight. The Mets, Diamondbacks, and Cubs fell short of the Playoffs. Interestingly, the A’s have as many wins as every National League playoff team except the Dodgers and the Rays have more wins than the Cardinals, Nationals, and Brewers. So, the AL overall has stronger records than the NL it was a small triumph that the Nationals, perennially strong starters and analysts’ favorites, finally made the Playoffs. And they had to beat the Brewers in the last game of the season to make it, which is ironic, since that’s their opponent in the one-game Wild Card Playoff too.

The Giants are planning to move their bullpens behind the outfield wall, reducing foul territory and will change Oracle Park. The Nationals offered Anthony Rendon a massive 7-year/$200 million extension. A Houston businessman has bet $3.5 million on the Astros to win the World Series.

Golf:

The FedEx Cup finally ended with Rory McIlroy winning the $15 million check. The PGA Tour took a 15-day break after that, then resumed the Fall season, with 11 tournaments. On Wednesday, World No.1 Brooks Koepka revealed that he recently (after the Tour Championship) underwent stem-cell treatment to repair a partially torn patella tendon in his left knee. That’s why he didn’t practice before any non-major tournament last year, because of the pain. This week, the PGA Tour is at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where Koepka will debut for his 2019-2020 season. Koepka was also given the Player of the Year Award for 2018-2019. He made it clear in the press conference that he doesn’t play for awards, he plays for titles. The European Tour unveiled its schedule for 2020 season:

¥ 11/28-12/1/19 Hong Kong Open
¥ 11/28-12/1/19 Alfred Dunhill Championship
¥ 12/5-12/8/19 Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open
¥ 12/19-12/22/19 Australian PGA Championship
¥ 1/9-1/12/20 South African Open
¥ 1/16-1/19 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
¥ 1/23-1/26 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
¥ 1/30-2/2 Saudi International
¥ 2/6-2/9 ISPS Handa Vic Open
¥ 2/20-2/23 WGC-Mexico Championship
¥ 2/27-3/1 Oman Open
¥ 3/5-3/8 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
¥ 3/12-3/15 Magical Kenya
¥ 3/19-3/22 Hero Indian Open
¥ 3/25-3/29 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
¥ 4/9-4/12 The Masters
¥ 4/16-4/19 Maybank Championship
¥ 4/23-4/26 Volvo China Open
¥ 4/30-5/3 Estrella D. Andalucia Masters
¥ 5/9-5/10 GolfSixes Cascals
¥ 5/14-5/17 US PGA Championship
¥ 5/21-5/24 Made in Denmark
¥ 5/28-5/31 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
¥ 6/4-6/7 Trophee Hassan II
¥ 6/11-6/14 Scandinavian Invitation
¥ 6/18-6/21 US Open
¥ 6/25-6/28 BMW International Open
¥ you have to believe that I had no idea this would be so long and that I just wanted to be helpful/informational…
¥ 7/2-7/5 Open de France
¥ 7/2-7/5 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational
¥ 7/9-7/12 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open
¥ 7/16-7/19 The 149th Open (British Open)
¥ 7/30-8/2 Betfred British Masters
¥ 7/30-8/2 Olympic Men’s Golf Competition
¥ 8/6-8/9 UK event
¥ 8/20-8/23 D+D Real Czech Masters
¥ 8/27-8/30 Omega European Masters
¥ 9/3-9/6 Porsche European Open
¥ at least I can keep this in the Commentary and just update it for the next year…
¥ 9/10-9/13 BMW PGA Championship
¥ 9/17-9/20 KLM Open
¥ 9/25-9/27 The 2020 Ryder Cup
¥ 10/1-10/4 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
¥ 10/8-10/11 Italian Open
¥ 10/15-10/18 Mutuactivos Open de Espana
¥ 10/22-10/25 Portugal Masters
¥ 10/29-11/1 WGC-HSC Champions
¥ 11/5-11/8 Turkish Airlines Open
¥ 11/12-11/15 Nedbank Golf Challenge
¥ 11/19-11/22 DP World Tour Championship

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season ended with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive battle 13-3 in the Super Bowl. The 100th NFL season began 4 games/weeks ago. It has been remarkable for low-scoring defensive battles, a few blowouts, and a remarkable number of starting QB injuries (7)! It has also featured more than the usual number of bad record/bad teams. Currently, there are 6 winless teams and several others that are just flailing. This, so far, has been a season that LACKS parity, maybe because of free agency or weird events. I can’t go on, without mentioning superstar WR Antonio Brown. So, he was one of the 3 stars of the Pittsburgh Steelers, until he became a problem in contract negotiations, and was traded to the Raiders. There, he became a problem in showing up for practice, in wearing his new protective helmet, in fighting with his coaches, and being accused of sexual battery. Even the Raiders, who have historically had their share of bad boys, decided to end their relationship with AB. He was snatched up by the Patriots, who were already full of superstar WRs. He lasted one game and one TD, before more charges against him appeared, and the Pats cut their losses. He is still hoping to be hired by another NFL team this season, while his legal battles continue in court. I was actually shocked that the Patriots picked up AB on waivers, given the charges against him, until one of my wiseguy friends said “hey, aren’t the Patriots the team that had a tight end who killed someone during a bye week in a season?” That shut me up.

So, let me tell you what I think about each team, so far, in 2019, this early in the season. So far, I’ve survived my pool (I really hate to call it a ‘suicide pool’, I wish they had a better term for it, I’m going to call it a ‘survivor pool’). If you have one of those ‘survivor pools’ too, then it hasn’t hurt you to take whatever team is playing the lowly Dolphins, despite this past weekend’s first half against the Chargers. That was only because I picked the Chargers and the Chargers decided not to play a healthy star RB Melvin Gordon. Of course, this week, the Dolphins have a bye, so I need to find another underperformer to lose to a good team. But, the Dolphins haven’t been the only disappointing NFL team in the AFC East. The Jets, with new superstar bizarre holdout Le’Veon Bell (and I love him from the Spartans), are awful. Sorry, they just are. The Bengals, who have usually contended with the Steelers in the AFC North, are 0-4 and just got pummeled Monday night by their rival Steelers, who are now without Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and QB Big Ben. I’m not sure who is still on the Steelers’ roster. Oh, let’s go back to the starting QB issue in the NFL. So, for the 4th year in a row, the NFL decides to institute QB protection rules and penalties that basically limit a defender to tackle a QB only while he has the ball, between the shoulders and the hip, without the helmet, with no arm or hand to the face, only when he has the ball, and without putting his weight on him. So, probably more than half of the sacks in NFL history would have been penalized. And, yet, with such protection for arguably the most important player in the game (don’t get me started on placekickers!), has in 4 weeks, yielded 7 of 32 starting QBs injured, some for the entire season. That’s like high repo rates, despite Fed inter…oh, never mind. So, if you are fans of these teams, many perennial playoff teams, you are no doubt biting your nails down to the core, watching guys you don’t know who are either journeymen or the guy you just drafted from college: Steelers, Saints, Bills, Bears, Panthers, Colts (retired unexpectedly from injuries), Jets, Raiders, and Jaguars. Hmmm, that was 9 teams. The Raiders apparently had another problem on their hands, as longtime rule-violator, Vontaze Burfict, hit a defenseless receiver in the head in the last game, against the Colts, and was ejected. Then, the NFL decided it had had enough and suspended him for the rest of the season without pay. Just to pour salt in Coach Jon Gruden’s wounds, Bears’ all-star LB Khalil Mack, who the Raiders traded for 3 draft picks, says he expected to be a Raider “for a long haul.” He gets to play against his former team, as a Bear, next Sunday, in London. More Gruden news, A. Stephens is hearing rumors that Jon’s brother, Jay, may get fired as coach of the winless Redskins. Reportedly, Patriots’ placekicker, Stephen Gostkowski, who missed a rare 4 kicks in a row (field goals and points after) needs season-ending surgery. The Raiders and Bears will be playing in London this Sunday. Longtime Cardinals owner, Bill Bidwell (ironically one of my nicknames in the Biz), has died at age 88. Bears LB Roquan Smith is back at practice and may be ready to play Week 5 in London. Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill is resuming practice after his shoulder injury. Colts GM is raving about QB Jacoby Brissett, Tom Brady’s former backup. Hmmm, and the Colts are playing the Chiefs…

After just 4 weeks:

AFC East-the Patriots are 4-0, but the Bills have shown some great defense and are 3-1.

AFC North-the Cleveland Browns, expected to excel this year, have managed to be 2-2, tied with the strong offense of the Baltimore Ravens.

AFC South-the Houston Texans, also expected to be stronger, have managed to be 2-2, tied with the Luckless Colts, Foles-less Jaguars, and Titans.

AFC West-the KC Chiefs have gone undefeated 4-0 over the first 4 weeks, but it wasn’t always easy. The rest of the division is at least 2 games behind.

NFC East-the Cowboys have come out roaring at 3-1, ahead of the perennially strong Eagles, and suddenly struggling Redskins.

NFC North-the Packers have been surprisingly strong and the Bears are relying on their defense. The Lions and the Vikings have surprisingly stumbled.
NFC South-the Saints, after losing the other GOAT, QB Drew Brees, have somehow managed to stay atop the division at 3-1.. The Bucs have been surprisingly strong, just beating the Rams in a shootout. The Panthers are hanging on without QB Cam Newton, but the Falcons are underwhelming.

NFC West-the 49ers have become the real deal, rebuilding in just 2 years, now at 3-0. The Seahawks were expected to reign, but stumbled out of the gate, and are now 3-1, tied with the Rams, who have been inconsistent. The Cardinals are in disarray.

The AAF, which was co-founded by Charlie Ebersol, and supported by the NFL as a developmental league, was folded by the NFL just 6 games into the Spring season this year. It is not to be confused with the XFL, which was launched 17 years ago, by Dick Ebersol of NBC, Charlie’s father. The XFL will re-launch in 2020.

In case you are already looking forward to Super Bowl LIV, which will be held here in Miami, tickets and TD club package start at $5000 per person. Other packages start at $10,000 per person.

NCAA Football:

We have now played 5 weeks of the 15-week regular season. It was really weird starting out without Alabama on top of the AP Top 25 poll, where they perennially start at No.1. But, since Clemson won the BCS National Championship last year, they were No.1 to start the season. However, Alabama is back up there at No.1 again. Some serious excitement already, especially with Monday’s news of California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, which will allow college athletes to be paid for endorsements (profiting off their name, image, and likeness), sell autographs and merchandise, accept endorsement deals, and hire agents, starting in 2023. Maybe the most important/profitable part will be that they can sell their image to appear in a college sports video game. The last licensed college football video game came out in 2013. The last licensed college basketball video game came out in 2009. There are still 14 undefeated teams in the Top 25.

The current AP Top 25 Poll:
1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Georgia
4. Ohio State
5. LSU
6. Oklahoma
7. Auburn
8. Wisconsin
9. Notre Dame
10. Florida
11. Texas
12. Penn State
13. Oregon
14. Iowa
15. Washington
16. Boise State
17. Utah
18. UCF
19. Michigan
20. Arizona State
21. Oklahoma State
22. Wake Forest
23. Virginia
24. SMU
25. Michigan State (okay it’s really Texas A&M in this poll)

Week 6 games to watch (especially with *):

*No.18 UCF @ Cincinnati
Utah State @ No.5 LSU
*No.6 Oklahoma @ Kansas
*No.14 Iowa @ No.19 Michigan
*No.21 Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech
Kent State @ No.8 Wisconsin
Purdue @ No.12 Penn State
*No.11 Texas @ West Virginia
*No.7 Auburn @ No.10 Florida
Bowling Green @ No.9 Notre Dame
No.3 Georgia @ Tennessee
No.25 Michigan State @ No.4 Ohio State
Tulsa @ No.24 SMU
Cal @ No.13 Oregon
No.16 Boise State @ UNLV
No.15 Washington @ Stanford

NHL:

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some of the 31 teams, on 10/3/18. It ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Bruins 4-3 in the Finals. The Blues were in last place in their division in January and wound up winning it all. The Blues gave their superfan, Laila Anderson, a Stanley Cup championship ring. The NHL is finishing up free agency signings. This season began Wednesday 10/2/19 for 8 of the 31 teams. Jets journeyman, Lee Stempniak, has retired. Sharks’ Evander Kane begins the season with a 3-game suspension for abusing and shoving an official. Canucks Sven Baertschi has been waived. The Hurricanes have named new captain, Jordan Staal. Flames signed Tobias Rieder and Zac Rinaldo to one-year deals. Kyle Connor and Jets agreed to 7year/$50 million contract. Avalanche and Mikko Rantanen agree to 6-year/$55.5 million deal. Sidney Crosby’s number will be retired across QMJHL.

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3/18 as well. It officially ended with the underdogs, the Toronto Raptors, ousting the favorite Golden State Warriors in six games. This year, the NBA season does not start until 10/22/19. Dwight Howard has been impressive in Lakers camp. Warriors star Klay Thompson won’t return until after All-Star break.

Olympics:

The hype for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo has officially begun. You may have already heard that there will be some new sports added and some sports returning. The Olympic Channel has announced that it will present 300 hours of coverage of the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics in Lausanne, from January 9 to January 22. In those 13 days, 1,880 athletes will compete in 8 sports across 16 disciplines in 81 medal events. New events will include monobob bobsleigh and ski mountaineering.

Tennis:

US Open winner, Bianca Andreescu, just posted her 16th straight win. No.1 Djokovic is continuing his Tokyo title quest, at the ATP Tokyo, 4 weeks after his US Open. Nadal, Federer, and Murray are at the ATP Beijing China Open, which is also being played now.

Horse Racing:

Los Angeles could soon be the first major city to ban horse racing. The Breeders Cup will be at Santa Anita Park 11/1 and 11/2.

Racing:

Last year’s champion, his first, for the NASCAR Cup Series was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead. Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017. The 2019 regular season has just completed and the Playoffs are in full gear. Here is the complete schedule of races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2019 and the results:

2/17 Daytona 500, won by Denny Hamlin
2/24 Atlanta, QuickTrip 500, won by Brad Keselowski
3/3 Las Vegas-Joey Logano
3/10 ISM Raceway-Kyle Busch
3/17 Auto Club-Kyle Busch
3/24 Martinsville-Brad Keselowski
3/31 Texas-Denny Hamlin
4/7 Bristol-Kyle Busch
4/13 Richmond-Martin Truex Jr.
4/28 Talladega-Chase Elliott
5/5 Dover-won by Martin Truex Jr.
5/11 Kansas-won by Brad Keselowski
5/18 All-Star Open Charlotte-won by Austin Dillon
5/26 Charlotte, Coca-Cola 600-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/2 Pocono, Pocono 400-won by Kyle Busch
6/9 Michigan, Firekeepers Casino 400-won by Joey Logano
6/23 Sonoma, Save Mart 350-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/30 Chicago, Camping World 400-won by Alex Bowman
7/7 Daytona, Coke Zero 400-won by Austin Haley
7/13 Kentucky, Quaker State 400-won by Kurt Busch
7/21 New Hampshire, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-won by Kevin Harvick
7/28 Pocono, Gander RV 400-Denny Hamlin
8/4 Watkins Glen, GoBowling at The Glen-Chase Elliott
8/11 Michigan, Consumers Energy 400-Kevin Harvick
8/17 Bristol, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Denny Hamlin
9/1 Darlington, Bojangles’ Southern 500-Erik Jones
9/8 Indianapolis, Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard-Kevin Harvick
9/15 Las Vegas playoff-South Point 400-Martin Truex, Jr.
9/21 Richmond playoff-Martin Truex, Jr.
9/29 Charlotte playoff-Chase Elliott
10/6 Dover playoff
10/13 Talladega playoff
10/20 Kansas playoff
10/27 Martinsville playoff
11/3 Texas playoff
11/10 ISM Raceway playoff
11/17 Miami-Homestead final playoff

Formula One began with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That was followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule 2/18-2/21 and 2/26-3/1, both in Catalunya, Spain. Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar and results (it might be easier to just say which races were not won by Lewis Hamilton):

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne-won by V. Bottas
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by Lewis Hamilton
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg-won by Max Verstappen
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone-won by Lewis Hamilton
7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim-won by Max Verstappen
8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest-Lewis Hamilton
9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa-Charles Leclerc
9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza-Charles Leclerc
9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore-Sebastian Vettel
9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi-Lewis Hamilton
10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka
10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City
11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX
11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo
12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

Here is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar and results (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars). The season just ended, with Josef Newgarden coming in 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for championship:

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg-Josef Newgarden
3/24 Circuit of the Americas-Colton Herta
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama-Takuma Sato
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach-Alexander Rossi
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis-Simon Pagenaud
5/26 Indianapolis 500-Simon Pagenaud
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1-Josef Newgarden
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2-Scott Dixon
6/8 Texas Grand Prix-Josef Newgarden
6/23 Road America-Alexander Rossi
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto-Simon Pagenaud
7/20 Iowa 300-Josef Newgarden
7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio-Scott Dixon
8/18 Pocono Grand Prix-Will Power (I love that name!)
8/24 Gateway Grand Prix-Takuma Sato
9/1 Grand Prix of Portland-Will Power (that’s all it takes)
9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca-Colton Herta

Travel News:

Legoland just announced the opening date of its New York resort: July 4, 2020. It will be the largest LegoLand ever built, containing seven themed lands packed with more than 50 rides, attractions, and events over 150 acres. More than 15,000 Lego models will be shipped to the New York location from around the world. A 28-year-old tourist died after climbing over the safety barrier at Grand Canyon Skywalk. For your Wedding Registry at Bed Bath & Beyond, you can now add spa getaways, goat yoga, and shark cage diving. A Delta employee at JFK has been arrested, after a bag containing $258,205 in cash went missing. Saudi Arabia is issuing tourist visas for the first time ever. China just opened the world’s largest airport, Beijing Daxing International Airport. It measures more than 700,000 square meters. Congress is considering a bill that would abolish “unfair and deceptive’”resort fees. Ski.com has an incredible new ‘dream job’ for 12 lucky people to travel the world and check out beaches and ski destinations, and they’ll pay you $2200/month. Virgin Atlantic has now debuted a new plane that has an onboard lounge. Pressure mounts on GM to make a deal, as the autoworker strike there has dragged into its 19th day.

Health News:

Okay, I’m ready for you Northerners to invade for the RMA conference in October in Boca Raton, and the snowbirds to come down, as I got my flu shot two weeks ago. Government agencies are sounding the alarm over lead paint and want home buyers to take these dangers seriously and address remediation more quickly. Your new favorite Christmas candy is predicted to be new Sweet Cinnamon Kit Kat bars. This week, you can get McDonald’s Big Macs delivered straight to your door for just one cent. There are now 3 FDA-approved medications to treat opioid addiction in the US: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. But, doctors consistently underutilize them. The Mayo Clinic Proceedings review says that of the patients who qualify for the FDA-recommended medications to treat OUD, only 11% actually receive them. For teenage patients, that percentage is frighteningly lower, at 2.4%. Opioid use, particularly among teenagers, has hit epidemic proportions, according to a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Here are the figures: in 2017, 900 adolescents began misusing opioids daily. Out of more than 750,000 adolescents who misused opioids in 2018, 12.8%, or roughly 99,000 teens reported symptoms of OUD. Specifically for heroin addiction, only 2.4% of adolescents get treatment with these medications, while more than 26% of adults get treatment with these medications. Hepatitis A outbreaks have flared up across the USA. The vaping crisis has now caused over 1,000 adolescents to wind up in hospitals in the US with respiratory problems, as the FDA and CDC search for the cause. Hopefully, you are reading this soon enough to take advantage of various free taco deals today, National Taco Day (Friday).

Animal News:

On Tuesday, a woman decided she needed to climb into the lion enclosure at the Bronx Zoo and face off with a large male lion, even dancing and taunting the baffled animal. Surprisingly, the animal was so stunned, it just stood and stared at her, until authorities were able to lure it away. It must have been the particular dance steps. Authorities have yet to find the woman, however, even though she posted a rap video online. Adult sea otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium are adopting orphaned babies. Airbnb is now offering experiences to spend time with and learn about animals. An East Alabama woman has been charged with 47 counts of animal cruelty. Two people were injured in a Colorado elk attack. Of course they were filming too close to the wild animal. Scientists recently discovered that tiny tardigrades are notoriously tough and actually could weather extreme conditions, including nuclear attack, freezing cold, boiling heat, and the vacuum and lethal radiation of space. Scientists located the key ingredient in tardigrades’ arsenal of superpowers and identified it as a damage-suppressor protein called Dsup. Researchers have previously noted that when Dsup was added to human cells, they became safeguarded against damage from X-rays. Now, scientists have discovered that Dsup binds to chromosome structures and protects DNA from the harmful effects of radiation. A trail runner at Antelope Island State Park in Utah was gored by a charging bison in a ‘freak attack’, last Friday, and then his date suffered the same fate. Even though it’s making the news a lot lately, attacks by bison are extremely rare. In just that park in Utah, there are about 700 bison and in the last 10 years, about 4 million people have visited the park, with just 5 bison incidents. Bison are prey, not predators, but become aggressive during mating season (July-September) and will usually charge, but sometimes hit, to defend what they feel is a safe space near them. Since 1980, bison have injured more people in Yellowstone National Park than any other animal has. The experts say don’t try to outrun a bison, because they can reach speeds of about 35 mph. Try to go back the way you came. Taking on the controversial issues of today, I report that there are worms (nematodes) that have 3 sexes thriving in an arsenic-laced lake in California. A walrus attacked and sank a Russian tugboat last week. No nationality was determined for the walrus. Now, that the last male Northern White Rhino has died, leaving just 2 females, scientists have created embryos from the eggs of the last living females in a lab. A newly described species of giant pterosaur (I think pterodactyl), Cryodrakon boreas, was recently identified from fossils found in Canada, and has been nicknamed the ‘Cold Dragon of the North Winds.’ The voracious and invasive Lionfish is taking over the Atlantic Ocean, eating through coral reef after coral reef. The monstrous Tibetan Mastiff dogs were bred with Mountain Wolves to be able to survive at super-high altitudes. The Atlantic great white shark has made a comeback since 1997,, when they went under Federal protection, and sharks are being spotted near beaches in the North Atlantic Ocean, just feet from the shoreline. Scientists are now uncovering secrets of an ancient mystery civilization in Saudi Arabia. Experts are skeptical of the claims that a Royal Tortoise lived to the age of 344-years-old.

Entertainment News:

Since we last spoke, we have lost more celebrities. Celebrity chef Carl Ruiz died at age 44. Legendary TV new pioneer, Cokie Roberts, left us at age 76. The frontman and principal singer of the Cars, Ric Ocasek, stopped singing at age 75. Another famous singer, Eddie Money, was laid to rest at age 70. Legendary oil tycoon T. Boone Pickets passed away at age 91. Movie actress Carol Lynley, died at age 77. Songwriter for Destiny’s Child, Tamar Braxton, Brandy, Monica and others, LaShawn Danield, stopped penning hits at age 42. Today (Friday), Diahann Carroll died at age 84.

Justin Bieber has slammed PETA for criticizing his $35,000 exotic cats. Meanwhile, the Biebs did his first country song with Dan + Shay, “10,000 Hours.” Nicky Hilton says Paris Hilton is a “Great Aunt” to her two kids. There is buzz and praise for Joaquin Phoenix’s approach to JOKER, which diverges from the late Heath Ledger’s portrayal and the portrayal by Jack Nicholson. Country music’s new super group is The Highwomen. 56-year-old Phoebe Cates and husband, Kevin Kline, are still going strong. Grey Anatomy’s breakup is turning bitter. Rachel Lindsay vows to never be a friends with Raven Gates again. Miley Cyrus was spotted kissing Cody Simpson, just two weeks after Kaitlynn Carter split. Queer Eye stars are mourning the sudden death of their beloved French bulldog mascot. Demi Lovato is apologizing after backlash over her trip to Israel. Travis Scott’s rumored mistress is denying involvement in his split with Kylie Jenner. Meanwhile, Khloe Kardashian has “no interest” in reconciling with Tristan Thompson. Actor James Franco has been accused of sexually exploiting female students at his acting school. Prince Harry just publicly reprimanded a British reporter amid ongoing tensions. Joe Giudice has been granted an Italy travel request amid deportation appeal. Josh Duhamel and Miss World America Audra Mari confirm their romance with a steamy public kiss. Fixer Upper fans (and I am one) will rejoice to hear that Chip and Joanna Gaines are opening a hotel. Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Lopez, and Jennifer Aniston have made 50 the new 30. Actor Robert De Niro has been hit with a $12 million sex discrimination and harassment lawsuit from former assistant. Cynthia Erivo plays Aretha Franklin in National Geographic Channel’s Genius series. Below Deck Mediterranean had its finale, which was good for Joao, promoted to Captain by Captain Sandy, but not good for Hannah, as the First Steward was told she doesn’t have a passion for yachting. It was a good season. Now, Below Deck Caribbean begins with Captain Lee, but in Thailand. My Chicago series have all begun bloodily: Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD. Model Gigi Hadid and Tyler Cameron officially split after whirlwind 2 months. Jeff Probst is calling out CBS for spoiling Survivor. They must be in their 25th season by now.

AVENGERS: ENDGAME has started its Oscar campaign for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay, but nothing for Acting. The box-office was weak this past weekend. Debuting at No.1 was ABOMINABLE, with $20.6 million. No.2 was DOWNTON ABBE, the screen adaptation of the wildly popular TV series, which made another $14.3 million in its second week. HUSTLERS continued to make money, raking in another $11.3 million for No.3, in its 3rd week (total of $80.5 million for a $20 million film). No.4 went to IT: CHAPTER TWO, with $10.2 million in its 4th week. Rounding out the top 5 was AD ASTRA, with $10 million in its second week. Another notable debut in limited theaters was JUDY, about Judy Garland, which was only in 461 theaters but made $2.9 million.

This weekend sees the debut of the latest DC Comics adaptation of JOKER, which has generated a lot of attention and is expected to take a shot at the October opening record. That record is held by last year’s VENOM, which made $80.25 million in its debut. Universal’s ABOMINABLE is expected to take No.2, and Universal’s DOWNTON ABBEY in No.3. Other movies opening this week in theaters: WAR, THE CLIMBERS, ASURAN, MY PEOPLE/MY COUNTRY, EL COYOTE, LUCY IN THE SKY, DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, CHANAKYA, OPEN, ROGER WATERS US + THEM, PAIN AND GLORY, SEMPER FI, MEMORY:THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN, 100% KAADHAL, THE PARTS YOU LOSE, CUCK, LOW TIDE, ROGUE WARFARE, WRINKLES THE CLOWN, BATTLE OF JANGSARI, A UNICORN ADVENTURE, WALLFLOWER, and AMERICAN GHANDI.

Martin Scorcese said that the DC and Marvel comic books films are “not cinema”.

Technology & Space News:

Are they going to come up with a 12-step program for this Amazon Prime? It’s seriously like (for all you youngsters) the old Home Shopping Network or QVC on steroids! You search for something on the Internet, find the best price, and click Buy Now, and it arrives the next day! It’s like Ebay without the auction and wait, no offense to those other companies. I can see how this could be very addictive to other people. HP Inc.’s new CEO has unveiled plans to streamline the computer/printer company, including cutting its workforce by as much as 16% over the next 3 years (about 7,000-9,000 people). In Forbes 400, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos tops the list of richest people in the US. Microsoft is showcasing an Android Surface phone. Bed Bath & Beyond is escalating store closings, as it ramps up its online store. GM has debuted its 2020 Corvette Stingray convertible. Ford has debuted its new throwback 2020 Mustang. The US government wants private Whatsapp texts from Facebook. Sony’s cloud video game service has gotten a price cut. The small city of Catalina Island does not sell Windows or Macintosh or smartphones, and the connectivity can be really spotty for the 4,400 inhabitants. But, Catalina Island is featured for the next year as the new Apple computer operating system update, called macOS Catalina, which will feature wallpaper with a beautiful photo of the island, much to the delight of its inhabitants. Apple historically updates its software each year with the name of a different California landmark. Apple had its big annual event right after I wrote the last Repo Commentary. So, if you missed it, Apple Arcade came out to help you enjoy games, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 11 and Apple Watch Series 5 arrived in stores in 3rd week of September. The new version (Gen 7) of the most popular iPad, featuring a 10.2-inch Retina Display, Smart Keyboard, and Apple Pencil Support hit stores about a week later. iPadOS also became available as free software update for iPad Air 2 and later, all iPad Pro models, iPad 5th Gen and later, And iPad mini 4 and later. Apple Antara opened its doors to Mexico City on 9/27. Apple-launched China Clean Energy Fund invested in 3 wind farms on 9/24. Apple’s new Mac Pro will be made in Texas. Apple’s Fifth Avenue store has its cube back. An unidentified ring-shaped object just floated by the International Space Station.

US News:

An impeachment inquiry has been launched into President Trump. The case of the ex-cop in Dallas who entered the wrong apartment and found a man there who she thought was and intruder, drew on him, and killed him, went to the jury today for sentencing. No doubt, the in-court apology by her to the victim’s brother, who forgave her and then came across the courtroom to give her a long hug, weighed heavily on the jury. 60 Minutes will tell the story this Sunday of the Texas Ranger who convinced serial killer, Samuel Little, to confess to murdering 93 women. Cops are hunting for a Speedo-clad man haunting Kent State sorority. Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, is still in the hospital after collapsing at a function and having emergency heart surgery. It was bound to happen sooner or later, an Oregon burglar was arrested by police, confessing to using a drone for aerial recon (case) potential burglary targets. Strange lights off the Outer Banks have sparked a debate about aliens or military operations. NYPD has stepped up video surveillance in subways. The Supreme Court has taken up a major Louisiana abortion case. Homeland Security is moving all biometric data to Amazon Cloud. 19 members of US Army 82nd Airborne were injured in a parachuting helicopter crash in Mississippi during training.

International News:

Terror inquiry has been launched into the killing of 4 police employees by a colleague in Paris on Thursday. Thousands of theater goers are protesting Hong Kong’s new emergency measure of banning face masks in public, particularly during more violent protests and in theaters and public places, amid reports of a teenager being shot with a live round. Ukraine’s President Zelensky, looking at a phased peace deal with Russian-backed rebels in the east, is planning a frontline troop withdrawal. The Iraq PM says there is “no magic solution” to unrest in the country, after days of violent protests. An Antonov-12 transport plane crash-landed near Lviv airport in western Ukraine, killing at least 5 people.

Florida:

Right across the street from me, at the Palm Beach Outlet Mall, a worker at Bird in the Hand, and in-store restaurant at Whole Foods, owned by the man who owns the food delivery service Go Cravy, was arrested for stealing a company check and attempting to deposit at a nearby TD Bank for $100,000.

I am usually singing a National Anthem, singing in my 6-part harmony group Generation Gap, and/or doing an Elvis Presley gig, each week here in Palm Beach County, FL. I think I have 3 gigs in the month of October and I did finally break down and buy a performance wig, because of the receding grey hair. However, if you were inclined to see much more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there were many acts which came to Florida this year, perhaps when you were visiting (I should be getting updated schedules for each venue soon for Q4 and 2020):

The Temptations-Fort Lauderdale, January 31
Don McLean-Immokalee, January 31
Michael Bolton-Fort Lauderdale, February 2
The Four Tops and the Temptations-West Palm Beach, February 2
Melissa Manchester-Aventura, February 8
Michael Bolton-West Palm Beach, February 8
The Commodores-Miami, February 9
Patti LaBelle-Fort Myers, February 11
Duran Duran-Miami Beach, February 12
Franki Valli & the Four Seasons, Hollywood, February 14
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14
Dave Mason-Fort Lauderdale, February 15
Little River Band-Fort Myers, February 15
Michael Buble-Sunrise, February 16 (I would like to go)
Alan Parsons Project-Fort Lauderdale, February 18
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes-Bonita Springs, February 20
Art Garfunkel-Fort Lauderdale, February 20
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Sarah Brightman-Hollywood, February 20
PGA Honda Classic-PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, February 28-March 2
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (it was fantastic!)
Sara Mclachlan-March 1, West Palm Beach
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band-Sunrise, March 17
Steve Miller Band-Hollywood, March 17
Tony Bennett-Miami, March 21
Palm Beach International Boat Show-West Palm Beach, March 28-March 31
Jackson Browne-West Palm Beach, April 3
Abba The Concert-Miami Beach, April 4
The Rolling Stones-Miami, April 20
Whitesnake-Fort Lauderdale, April 25
Slayer-West Palm Beach, May 11
Rascal Flatts-West Palm Beach, May 23
Ariana Grande-Orlando, May 29
Ozzie Osbourne & Megadeth-Sunrise, May 31
Hootie & the Blowfish-West Palm Beach, June 8
Florence and The Machine-Miami, June 9
Train & Goo Goo Dolls-West Palm Beach, July 6
Hugh Jackman-Sunrise, July 6
Jeff Lynnes’ Electric Light Orchestra-Sunrise, July 9
New Kids on the Block, Salt N Pepa, Naughty by Nature-Sunrise, July 14
Iron Maiden-Sunrise, July 18
Dave Matthews Band-West Palm Beach, July 26
Jennifer Lopez-Miami, July 26
Korn & Alice in Chains-West Palm Beach, July 28
Shawn Mendes-Miami, July 28
Queen & Adam Lambert-Sunrise, August 17
Florida Georgia Line-West Palm Beach, August 29
Peter Frampton-West Palm Beach, September 6
Dane Cook-Fort Lauderdale, September 28

Repo Commentary-9/11/19

IMG_4537IMG_1950IMG_4536IMG_4535IMG_2655IMG_1966IMG_1972IMG_1973IMG_2020IMG_2021IMG_1943IMG_1949IMG_1951IMG_1954IMG_1957IMG_1933IMG_1934IMG_1938IMG_1940[1]IMG_1942IMG_1868IMG_1917IMG_1922IMG_1930IMG_1830IMG_1835IMG_1932IMG_1935IMG_1701IMG_1817IMG_1821IMG_1822IMG_1829IMG_1898

I sang my 150th MLB game last Wednesday night in Jupiter, FL. I’m also still singing Elvis gigs with my 6-part harmony group, Generation Gap, all over Palm Beach County. I have graduated to a performance wig due to thinning hair.

I have also been interviewing for jobs, consulting with a few folks, finished with the memoir I ghost-wrote, chaired a conference and attended a few others, and wrote some articles. I am still looking to re-enter the Securities Financing Market, so if you hear of anything… I will be seeing many of you here in Boca Raton at the RMA Conference in October.

My Repo Commentary is posted on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I’m trying to make it more frequent, but I’ve been swamped.

If you need to reach me, my cell is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time. I’m trying a new format for historical data, so let me know what you think. As many of you know, it used to be a daily Repo Commentary back in the 80s and for a long time.

Holidays or Events (9/10):

• Blame It On The Large Hadron Collider Day
• I’m On Top Of It Day
• International Creepy Boston Dynamics Robotic Horse Day
• International Make-Up Day
• National Boss/Employee Exchange Day
• National Swap Ideas Day
• National Hot Dog Day
• Sew Be It Day
• The Beginning of Rosh Hashanah (Judaism)
• TV Dinner Day
• World Suicide Prevention Day
• Amerindian Heritage Day in Guyana
• Children’s Day in Honduras
• Gibraltar National Day
• Saint George’s Caye Day in Belize
• Teachers’ Day in China

On September 10, 2001, the night before, I, along with about 17,000 fellow New Yorkers, attended the Jackson Five reunion, a star-studded event held at Madison Square Garden. Little did we all know that our lives would be forever changed the next morning. I lost many friends, colleagues, clients, and 6 golf partners when the World Trade Center towers collapsed from a ruthless attack by terrorists who commandeered 2 commercial aircraft and flew them into the Towers. It had been almost 60 years since the last time foreigners attacked US soil (Pearl Harbor 12/7/1941).

Precisely, on the morning of 9/11/2001, coordinated terrorist assaults occurred at the World Trade Center in NYC, at the Pentagon, and a foiled attack on Washington, DC that was brought down by brave passengers who sacrificed themselves in a field in Pennsylvania. Terrorists had hijacked 4 US commercial passenger planes and flown them, along with their passengers, into the Twin Towers, the wall of the Pentagon, and in that field. 2,997 civilians, 8 EMTs/paramedics, 60 police officers, and 343 firefighters were killed, and more than 6,000 others injured. 265 of the deaths were passengers and crews on the 4 planes. Many of us lost family members, co-workers, and friends in the attacks. Many people are still struggling with the after-effects of the terrorist attacks, not just because of emotional loss, but also physical harm, as over 7,500 first responders at each of the sites has come down with some form of cancer, many dying. Doctors believe the cancers were caused by the toxic dust and toxic chemicals from the attacks. Recently, President Trump signed into law a bill that would continue the expiring benefits for those first responders and victims of 9/11 until the year 2090.

I was working at Morgan Stanley at the time of the attacks and we had recently merged with Dean Witter Reynolds, so we were the largest occupant of the World Trade Center towers, with some 3500 workers spread over 28 floors. Our hero Security team of 12 were the only Morgan Stanley fatalities, thanks to their valiant efforts to keep employees OUT of the towers, after officials had given the All Clear. I lived next door to St. Patrick’s Cathedral where they held the memorial services for each of the first responders and played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes daily for months. It has an effect on you.

I will never forget 9/11. I have been forever changed. In 2004, I joined Cantor Fitzgerald, who had lost 658 of its employees in Tower 1, to rebuild its Repo Desk, and read the names of those colleagues at the annual memorial service.

May we never forget the tragedy of 9/11/01, the victims and their families, our first responders (many of whom now endure their individual tragedies), and those who fight to protect us ever since.

Some Famous People Born 09/10 in History:

• 920-Louis IV of France
• 1839-Isaac K. Funk, co-founder of Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia
• 1925-Roy Brown, American singer/songwriter
• 1927-Johnny Keating, Scottish trombonist/composer/producer
• 1929-Arnold Palmer, golfer/designer
• 1933-Karl Lagerfeld, German-French fashion designer/photographer
• 1934-Roger Maris, MLB
• 1940-Roy Ayers, American singer/songwriter/musician
• 1941-Gunpei Yokoi, Japanese video game designer, invented Game Boy
• 1945-Jose Feliciano, Puerto Rican singer/songwriter/guitarist
• 1946-Don Powell, English rock drummer (Slade)
• 1947-Larry Nelson, golfer
• 1948-Bob Lanier, NBA
• 1948-Charlie Waters, NFL
• 1949-Barriemore Barlow, English rock drummer/songwriter (Jethro Tull)
• 1949-Bill O’Reilly, American journalist/author
• 1950-Rosie Flores, American singer/guitarist
• 1950-Joe Perry, American singer/songwriter/guitarist
• 1951-Bill Rogers, golfer
• 1953-Amy Irving, American actress
• 1957-Carol Decker, English singer/songwriter (T’Pau)
• 1960-Colin Firth, English actor/producer
• 1963-Randy Johnson, MLB
• 1968-Guy Ritchie, English director/producer/screenwriter
• 1972-James Duval, American actor/producer
• 1974-Ryan Phillippe, American actor/producer
• 1974-Ben Wallace, NBA
• 1983-Joey Votto, MLB
• 1985-Neil Walker, MLB
• 1987-Paul Goldschmidt, MLB

This Day in History (9/10):

• 506-the bishops of Visigothic Gaul meet in the Council of Agde.
• 1419-John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, is assassinated by adherents to the Dauphin, the future Charles VII of France.
• 1509-an earthquake known as “The Lesser Judgment Day” hits Constantinople.
• 1547-the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, the last full-scale military confrontation between England and Scotland, resulting in a decisive victory for the forces of Edward VI.
• 1570-Spanish Jesuit missionaries land in present-day Virginia to establish the short-lived Ajacan Mission.
• 1608-John Smith is elected council president of Jamestown, Virginia.
• 1776-American Revolutionary War: Nathan Hale volunteers to spy for the Continental Army.
• 1798-at the Battle of St. George’s Caye, British Honduras defeats Spain.
• 1813-the United States defeats the British Fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.
• 1823-Simon Bolivar is named President of Peru.
• 1846-Elias Howe is granted a patent for the sewing machine.
• 1897-Lattimer massacre: a sheriff’s posse kills 19 unarmed striking immigrant miners in Lattimer, PA.
• 1898-Empress Elisabeth of Austria is assassinated by Luigi Lucheni.
• 1918-Russian Civil War: the Red Army captures Kazan.
• 1919-Austria and the Allies sign the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye recognizing the independence of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.
• 1936-the first World Individual Motorcycle Speedway Championship is held at London’s Wembley Stadium.
• 1939-WWII: the submarine HMS Oxley is mistakenly sunk by the submarine HMS Triton near Norway and becomes the Royal Navy’s first loss of a submarine in the war.
• 1939-WWII: Canada declares war on Germany, joining the Allies (Poland, France, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia).
• 1942-WWII: the British Army carries out an amphibious landing on Madagascar to re-launch Allied operations in the Madagascar Campaign.
• 1943-WWII: in the course of Operation Achse, German troops began their occupation of Rome.
• 1960-Summer Olympics in Rome, Abebe Bikila becomes the first sub-Saharan African to win a gold medal, winning the marathon in bare feet.
• 1961-in the Italian Gran Prix, a crash causes the death of German Formula One driver Wolfgang von Trips and 13 spectators who are hit by his Ferrari.
• 1967-the people of Gibraltar vote to remain a British dependency rather than becoming part of Spain.
• 1974-Guinea-Bissau gains independence from Portugal.
• 1976-a British Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident and an Inex-Adria DC-9 collide near Zabreb, Yugoslavia, killing 176.
• 1977-Hamida Djandoubi, convicted of torture and murder, is the last person to be executed by guillotine in France.
• 2000-Operation Barras successfully frees 6 British soldiers held captive for over two weeks and contributes to the end of the Sierra Leone Civil War.
• 2001-the Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Celebration concert was held September 7th and September 10th in NYC’s Madison Square Garden, hosted by Michael Jackson. I was actually there on 9/10/2001. The star-studded shows not only featured MJ and a reunion of The Jacksons, but also featured performances by Samuel L. Jackson (narrating), Usher, Mya, Whitney Houston, Marlon Brando (speech), Billy Gilman, Shaggy, Monica, Al Jarreau, Jill Scott, Deborah Cox, James Ingram, Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, Liza Minnelli, Destiny’s Child, Ray Charles, Cassandra Wilson, Elizabeth Taylor (introduction), NSYNC, Britney Spears, Chris Tucker, Dionne Warwick, Gloria Gaynor, 98 Degrees, Luther Vandross, Missy Elliott, Nelly Furtado, Aaron Carter, and Gladys Knight. Several of the stars were actually staying at the downtown Marriott Vista hotel, which was destroyed during the following day’s terrorist attacks.
• 2002-Switzerland, traditionally a neutral country, becomes a full member of the United Nations.
• 2007-former PM of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, returns to Pakistan after 7 years in exile, following a military coup in October 1999.
• 2008-the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, described as the biggest scientific experiment in history, is powered up in Geneva, Switzerland.
• 2017-Hurricane Irma makes landfall on Cudjoe Key, Florida as a Category 4, after causing catastrophic damage throughout the Caribbean. Irma will result in 134 deaths and $64.76 billion in damage.

Daily Weird Facts:

On any given workday, up to 50,000 employees worked in the World Trade Center twin towers before 9/11/01.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her. But once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.”–Voltaire

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5
$47.66/barrel on 12/23
$48.63 on 01/07
$52.31/barrel on 01/16
$55.26/barrel on 2/3
$55.41/barrel on 2/26
$73.77/barrel on 4/29
$63.28/barrel on 5/17
$54.07/barrel on 6/18
$55.96/barrel on 7/24
$58.31/barrel on 9/10

The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station has fallen again since Hurricane Dorian (although we have very strong laws against price gouging) to $2.29/gallon. Most of the other stations in the area are 30-60 cents more per gallon.

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all Repo Commentary dates):

112.20 on 12/24
108.60 on 01/07
109.07 on 01/16
103.18 on 02/03
104.86 on 2/25
103.86 on 5/17
102.59 on 6/18
102.43 on 7/24
101.72 on 9/10

One Euro was trading on:

12/24 at $1.1426
01/07 at $1.1478
01/16 at $1.1396
02/03 at $1.2047
02/25 at $1.1955
05/17 at $1.1761
06/18 at $1.1825
07/24 at $1.1740
09/10 at $1.1623

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24 at $1.2655
01/07 at $1.2770
01/16 at $1.2880
02/03 at $1.3758
02/25 at $1.3728
05/17 at $1.3427
06/18 at $1.3157
07/24 at $1.3070
09/10 at $1.2959

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24
1.3297 on 01/07
1.3255 on 01/16
1.2492 on 2/03
1.2492 on 2/25
1.2800 on 5/17
1.2740 on 6/18
1.2480 on 7/24
1.2520 on 9/10

Gold closed on 7/24 at $1425.60/ounce. On 9/09, it closed at $1504.90/ounce.

Bitcoin was trading at (Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25
$6,350 on 10/5
$3,774.97 on 12/24/18
$3,7774.97 on 01/07
$3,598.90 on 01/16
$3,421.10 on 02/06
$3,826.44 on 02/26
$8,100.00 on 05/16
$7,215.79 on 05/17
$9,088.59 on 06/18
$11,919.30 on 06/25
$9,790.37 on 07/24
$10,183.90 on 09/10

After rebounding dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs, Bitcoin had a reversal in the summer, but has advanced again recently.

Global Financial News:

Ahead of its IPO roadshow this week, WeWork is slashing its valuation by more than half, per Bloomberg. The money-losing startup, which leases office space, was valued at $47 billion earlier this year. They based their new analysis on other disappointing IPOs of losing-startups, like Uber. WeWork’s IPO would be the second biggest this year. My former AVM colleague, Garth Friesen, has written a macro update about the plunge in global long-term bond yields. Volcker rule revisions are drawing criticism from Paul Volcker himself. He told current Fed Chairman Jerome Powell that a proposal that would ease restrictions on banks’ stakes in private equity funds and hedge funds and that would narrow banks’ trading limits would weaken the rule’s core concepts. He believes the new rule would truly show the risk in the financial system and highlights conflicts of interest. The White House is defending its plan to revamp Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, by privatizing the organizations and taking them out from under government control, which has been implicit and then explicit after the Financial Crisis. Critics say that this plan would increase the cost of homebuying and would ignore the needs of low-income homeowners. JPMorgan Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon says the bank is discussing a plan for zero interest rates (or lower). A group of large mortgage lenders and a long list of other organizations are asking the CFPB to eliminate the debt-to-income ratio required under the Qualified Mortgage rule. Some loans, like those of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, don’t need to meet the requirements, creating an uneven playing field. BOE Gov Mark Carney says the inversion of US and UK yield curves should not be read as a positive sign for the global economic outlook. He also says GBP volatility has hit “emerging-market levels”. During the Financial Crisis, major central banks cooperated to prevent a global depression. In today’s economy, however, the Fed, ECB, and BOJ might be forced to make decisions that hurt other jurisdictions, according to Reuters. EC President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has nominated Phil Hogan, an ally of Ireland’s PM, to become EU trade commissioner. Hogan has been a harsh critic of a no-deal Brexit and would likely be a key figure in negotiations between the UK and EU. European banks spent $77 billion for technology this year, outmatched by their US peers, who plan to spend $105 billion on tech. The US Treasury says that all cryptocurrencies must meet US rules that combat money laundering and financing of terrorism, including Facebook’s libra and other cryptocurrencies that may be based outside the US. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx) has made a surprise bid to purchase London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) of about $36.6 billion. One contingency is that LSEG much abandon it plan to purchase dat provider Refinitiv. Membes of the CFTC advisory committee are urging CME Group and LCH to resolve a 3-month difference in the date of adopting the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) discounting. Some participants disagree between the CME’s July 2020 date and LCH’s October 2020 date. GE looks to sell as much as $3 billion in shares of Baker Hughes, which would bring its stake in the oilfield-services company below 50%. Charles Schwab announced a plan to lay off about 600 workers. Vanguard ETF reportedly saw an outflow of $177 million due to Brexit concerns. The WSJ reports that the share of female board members in US companies reached 20% in Q2. A Federal Reserve study is suggesting that there is a rising liquidity risk in some mutual funds, due to significant increases in holdings of illiquid assets during the past 10 years and an increase in borrowings in response to rising redemptions.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones (global stocks as well), along with other stock indices, were enjoying record or near-record highs in late July 2019 (feeding off of earnings reports, US budget progress, and the Fed switching to easing monetary policy) but then corrected some 10% in August 2019, due to global political unrest and tariff/trade wars. Since August, equities have regained half (Dow) of what they lost.

The Dow Jones closed at (Repo Commentary Dates):

26,656.77 on 9/20/18
26,447.05 on 10/5/18
21,792.20 on 12/23/18
21,712.53 on 12/26/18
24,207.16 on 01/16/19
25,063.89 on 2/06/19
26,106.47 on 2/25/19
25,862.68 on 5/16/19
26,465.54 on 6/18/19
27,269.97 on 7/24/19
26,793.09 on 9/10/19 down 42 points as I write this

S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20/18 of 2,930.66, then marched back up to a new high on 7/24/19, only to correct to nearly 2,800 three times in August, before rising again to near the highs, closing on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58
12/26/18 at 2,467.70
01/07/19 at 2,549.69
01/16/19 at 2,616.10
02/06/19 at 2,706.53
02/25/19 at 2,799.34
05/16/19 at 2,876.32
06/18/19 at 2,917.75
07/24/19 at 3,019.56 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 2,969.04

Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28/18 high of 8,030.04, closing on:

10/5/18 at 7,788.45
12/26/18 at 6,554.36
01/07/19 at 6,823.47
01/16/19 at 7,034.70
02/06/19 at 7,263.87
02/25/19 at 7,561.87
05/16/19 at 7,898.05
06/18/19 at 7,953.68
07/24/19 at 8,321.50 new all-time high
09/10/19 at 8,043.58

US Treasury yields have been in free-fall since hitting highs in October 2018.

2 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.88%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.53%
01/16/19 at 2.55%
02/06/19 at 2.52%
02/22/19 at 2.48%
05/16/19 at 2.20%
06/18/19 at 1.86%
07/24/19 at 1.83%
09/09/19 at 1.58% Wow!

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%
12/18/18 at 2.64%
01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)
01/16/19 at 2.53%
02/06/19 at 2.50%
02/22/19 at 2.46%
05/16/19 at 2.15%
06/18/19 at 1.80%
07/24/19 at 1.79%
09/09/19 at 1.52%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.49%
01/16/19 at 2.54%
02/06/19 at 2.51%
02/22/19 at 2.47%
05/16/19 at 2.18%
06/18/19 at 1.83%
07/24/19 at 1.82%
09/09/19 at 1.49%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%
12/18/18 at 2.74%
01/07/19 at 2.60%
01/16/19 at 2.62%
02/06/19 at 2.59%
02/22/19 at 2.55%
05/16/19 at 2.28%
06/18/19 at 1.93%
07/24/19 at 1.93%
09/09/19 at 1.57%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%
12/18/18 at 2.82%
01/07/19 at 2.70%
01/16/19 at 2.73%
02/06/19 at 2.70%
02/22/19 at 2.65%
05/16/19 at 2.40%
06/18/19 at 2.06%
07/24/19 at 2.05%
09/09/19 at 1.83%

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%
12/18/18 at 3.07%
01/07/19 at 2.99%
01/16/19 at 3.07%
02/06/19 at 3.03%
02/22/19 at 3.02%
05/16/19 at 2.84%
06/18/19 at 2.55%
07/24/19 at 2.58%
09/10/19 at 2.11%

US Treasury yields have virtually disappeared in the last 2 months and market participants are expecting another 25bp rate cut at the 9/18 FOMC meeting. Timing is perfect for record issuance by the US Treasury, so it will pay less interest on its debt, and as it’s mulling over issuing much longer maturities at these cycle low interest rates. But, there is a ‘Catch-22’: the rates are low, so great for issuance and great for Treasury; but who will buy the securities if they have too low a yield versus other investments?

Housing News:

Homebuyer statistics have changed drastically in 20 years. White Americans made up 66% of first-time homebuyers in 2017, a 5% drop since 1997, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Meanwhile, homebuyers identifying themselves as Asian and others have increased from 5% to 11%, in the same time period, the largest gain of any groups. The proportion of married buyers dropped the most, from 61% in 1997 to 50% in 2017.

Repo News:

EquiLend/MarketAccess is touting their SFTR solution NGT with a centralized portal for UTIs.

I hear there may be some upcoming consolidation in the financial industry conference space, as some firms are trimming sponsorship and there are a lot of conferences. Meanwhile, there has been considerable movement in the all-to-all, peer-to-peer, CCP, electronic platform space for Repo & Securities Lending. One firm has been going gangbusters on Total Return Swaps for their electronic platform, another has had to lay of some people, another electronic platform shut down its London effort and trimmed US marketing, Sponsored Repo is reportedly running into a constraint of now some $100 billion in CCLF obligation, while one electronic platform is rumored to be having issues, and another one has suddenly popped up for collateralized loans. Meanwhile, peer-to-peer between the insurance companies and money funds is increasing, and peer-to-peer within the pension fund peer group and within the hedge fund peer group may be gaining some traction. Month-end repo rates have been hairy lately, as has liquidity, and unusual setting of SOFR rates to the dealer offer-side of triparty repo. It makes sense that any solution that can net or reduce or eliminate use of capital and balance sheet for broker/dealers would be of greater importance now, with yields at multi-year lows and any savings a higher percentage of those nominal yields. On the same token, any solution that can help buyside save any of the bid/offer spread being captured by broker/dealers, which also is a higher percentage of the current low nominal yields, also increases in importance in this environment. As I look at job opportunities, I am exploring funding for broker/dealers, funding for asset managers, electronic platforms, newer solutions, CCPs, and maybe even consulting for multiple solutions. So far, I am ruling out being an insurance agent or PWM rep, but ya never know!

I still see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for ALL collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers, which has been volatile but certainly widened since the Financial Crisis, and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis, which not only subjected clients to dealer defaults and wider spreads, but in many cases directly impacted clients by making them suddenly the outright traders of repo collateral. Some of that collateral, on top of it, was very illiquid. Not knowing who the other clients were on the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book, and who could potentially bring down those intermediary dealers was costly for many clients. Clearly, with that pipeline of is intermediation becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets (which has recovered partially with new entrants to the market and international banks’ increases due to regulatory arbitrage) being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be explored for cash provider and collateral provider clients. My former baby, AVM’s Direct Repo™, was the first of one of such pathways, over 10 years ago. Since then, many other liquidity pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agented repo through seclending agents and some prime brokers to buyside clients, direct lending from beneficial owners to hedge funds who are short via their agents, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations of their custodial clients, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like (Elixium, BNY DBVX, State Street’s Cash Cross), FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products for certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, dealer to dealer and some clients electronic trading platforms (like GLMX, HQLA, and Tradeweb), other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (particularly in Europe, like Eurex, LCH, OCC, CME, etc.), total return swaps platforms (like WeMatch.com), and collateralized loan exchanges like AFX/CBOE. There have still been other firms that have created some king of product that mimics a repo, but yet doesn’t show up on dealers’ balance sheets (so helps them), and/or provides better credit counterparties (so helps clients), and can take many forms. I believe this overall evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used in some part, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers. Some of that balance sheet has returned, as I mentioned above, but maybe for only select ‘platinum’ clients and may come at a higher bid/offer spread or in specific, more profitable products/securities, as other market observers/experts have said.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:
 

• Deutsche Borse/Clearstream held its annual conference this week in Luxembourg, which I attended last year.
• IMN 25th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference was held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/5-2/6. I was chosen as the Chairperson.
• Finadium held a new conference on the Business of Collateral Trading in Frankfurt, Germany on 2/21.
• IMN held its annual Fixed Income Investor Network in Las Vegas on 2/24.
• iMoneyNet held its annual MMExpo in Middleburg, VA 3/4-3/6.
• PASLA/RMA held its 16th annual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia 3/5-3/7.
• GIOA held its 15th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/20-3/22.
• Crane Data held its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Philadelphia on 3/25-3/26.
• Finadium held its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
• GFOA held its 113th annual conference in Los Angeles on 5/19-5/22.
• Securities Lending Times held its annual Securities Finance Technology Symposium in London on 5/9.
• IMN held its annual Global ABS conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/11-6/13.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Philadelphia, PA on 6/18-6/20.
• ISLA held its Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Madrid this week.
• Crane Data held its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26 in Boston.
• Hedge Fund Association held its Rooftop Social in NYC on 6/27.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/17-9/19.
• IHS Markit in conjunction with Opal Group will hold a Securities Finance Forum in NYC on 9/17.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 9/22-9/24.
• IMN will hold its annual European Securities Finance conference in London on 9/25-9/26.
• Crane Data will hold its annual European Money Fund Symposium in Dublin, Ireland on 9/23-24.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe in London on 9/24.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in Naples, FL on 10/6-10/9.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its Fixed Income Leaders conference in Barcelona on 10/7-10/9.
• RMA will hold its 37th annual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Boca Raton, FL on October 14-17, as they just announced.
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its annual conference in Boston, MA on 10/20-10/23.
• Finadium will hold its Rates & Repo conference in New York on 11/4
• Risk.net will hold its 25th annual Risk USA conference in NYC on November 5-6.
• SIFMA will hold its annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 11/18-11/20.

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 2.25%, after the FOMC lowered it on 7/31/19. However, the Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR), as reported by the NY Fed on its website, has drifted lower to 2.13% on 9/09/19, averaging about 12bp below the actual target rate. Now, Fed Funds don’t TRADE much like they used to, just between some regional banks and GSEs.

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. That rate on 9/09/19 was 2.11% and has been very constant throughout this month.

The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is supposed to be a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities. It is also reported by the NY Fed on its website. It has been controversial and has been considered as a possibly replacement for LIBOR. SOFR includes trades in the Broad General Collateral Rate of Repo plus bilateral Treasury Repo transactions cleared through the DVP services at CCP FICC, ostensibly filtering out issues trading Special. However, critics (and I am one) say that it only picks up the Offered Side of Repo (not a median), that it only picks up the small amount of DVP transactions cleared at FICC and Triparty Repo done at Bank of NY, ignoring the growing amount of bilateral (non-Triparty) repo being done peer-to-peer, dealer-to-dealer, and client-to-dealer, outside of FICC. It is a good representation of where Money Funds (except for a few savvy ones who trade peer-to-peer) are paid on their cash versus US Treasuries in Repo each day by broker/dealers. It almost completely ignores other sectors, particularly buyside clients with collateral. That all being said, the current SOFR reported by the Fed for 09/09/19 was 2.12%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20.

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and OER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15/19, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market. So, if RRP is not extinct, it is certainly now dormant, occasionally coming out of hibernation for year-ends and quarter-ends, when liquidity becomes very strange.

In December, at the FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%
12/13/18 to 2.50%

But, then the Federal Reserve paused. Suddenly, on 7/31/19, the Fed eased the Fed Funds target rate to 2.25%, and is likely to cut another 0.25% to 2.00% on 9/18/19.

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For reference, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007, at or near the beginning of the Financial Crisis.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell spoke in Zurich on Friday 9/6 and said that the most likely case is for continued moderate growth in the US and the rest of the world. But, the Fed is still monitoring “significant risks”. He said that the US labor market strength continues, despite the soft Nonfarm Payrolls report. He said the Fed will act as needed to “sustain expansion”. The market has priced in about a 90% chance of a 25bp rate cut at this month’s FOMC meeting. Thanks to my former MS colleague, Harvey Flax of ICE, for the synapsis.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Globally (US Northwest, Japan, Iran, Venezuela, China, Greece, Italy, Armenia, etc.) the Earth’s crust has been very active. Thses are just the earthquakes over the last 3 days! Latest strong earthquakes (4.5 magnitude and above):

9/10 4.7 11km W of Tashir, Armenia
9/10 4.9 52km SSW of Puerto El Triunfo, El Salvador
9/10 4.8 Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
9/10 5.0 East of the South Sandwich Islands
9/10 5.6 23km SE of Bobon, Philippines
9/10 4.6 45km E of Austin, Nevada
9/09 5.4 161km ESE of Amatignak Island, Alaska
9/09 4.6 Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
9/09 5.5 18km WSW of Araya, Venezuela
9/09 4.9 1km NE of Puerto Galera, Philippines
9/09 5.5 SE of Easter Island
9/09 5.2 88km W of Isangel, Vanuatu
9/09 4.9 East of Bhadarwah, India
9/09 4.7 24km WNW of Itbayat, Philippines
9/09 5.3 45km NE of Amatignak Island, Alaska
9/09 4.5 42km WSW of Cetraro, Italy
9/09 4.8 66km SE of Lata, Solomon Islands
9/09 4.9 293km ESE of Iwo Jima, Japan
9/09 4.5 94km S of Hachijo-jima, Japan
9/08 4.6 Reykjanes Ridge
9/08 4.5 22km WNW of Megalopolis, Greece
9/08 5.1 56km WSW of Panguna, Papua New Guinea
9/08 5.0 15km ENE of Suyan, Philippines
9/08 4.6 62km W of Queshm, Iran
9/08 4.6 200km E of Namie, Japan
9/08 4.5 75km NW of Yakutat, Alaska
9/08 5.2 Indian Ocean Triple Junction
9/08 4.9 7km SSW of Yanling, China
9/08 4.8 43km ENE of Bhadarwah, India
9/07 5.1 1km S of Neijiang, China
9/07 4.7 278km NW of Longyearbyen, Svabard and Jan Meyen
9/07 4.5 52km ENE of Chazuta, Peru
9/07 5.3 11km NW of Briston Island, South Sandwich Islands
9/07 4.6 177km WNW of Zambezi, Zambia
9/07 4.5 S of the Fiji Islands
9/07 4.7 99km NNE of Chichi-shima, Japan
9/07 5.1 79km ENE of Mutsu, Japan
9/07 5.3 Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
9/07 4.7 Kuril Islands

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1st and ends November 30th. For 2018, Colorado State University experts had predicted an above average season of 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 would become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, there were 15 named Tropical Storms, of which 8 were hurricanes, and 2 of them major. So, they were wrong, but this time, not in a good way.

Hurricane officials are warning Floridians to prepare in advance of the upcoming storm season. There are several national meteorological services and scientific agencies that forecast how many named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes (above Category 3). TSR, CSU, and The Weather Company were similar numbers, while NCU was higher. CSU has been the most used and they forecast for 2019 a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes.

The Hurricane names for the 2019 North Atlantic season are:

Andrea-x
Barry-x
Chantal-x
Dorian-x
Erin-x
Fernand-x
Gabrielle-x
Humberto
Imelda
Jerry
Karen
Lorenzo
Melissa
Nestor
Olga
Pablo
Rebekah
Sebastian
Tanya
Van
Wendy

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18 and ends 11/1/18.

Hurricane Dorian came into the Bahamas, particularly the Abacos (where I visited last year), as a monster Category-5 hurricane, devastating the region. To make matters worse, the storm stalled over the Bahamas for days, flooding the region with some 30 inches of rain. It wiped out most of the Abacos, tearing off every roof, destroying buildings, leveling the airport and wharfs. At least 50 people are currently known to be dead, but that number is expected to increase dramatically. The Bahamas government now lists 2500 people missing. Unfortunately, the government there had no evacuation plan in place and has been ineffective with relief efforts. So, luckily other countries have committed resources and money, particularly through charity organizations and private citizens lending boats and aircraft to deliver supplies. The cruise line here out of the Port of Palm Beach has been bringing supplies TO the Bahamas and bringing BACK thousands of Bahamian refugees. Desperation is, however, mounting in the Bahamas, as shelters are turning some evacuees away. Everyone here in Florida is praying for their neighbors in the Bahamas and starting their own relief efforts. The Bahamas is a short flight from Florida and just a couple hours’ boat ride. So, it is a popular destination for Floridians. For the third year in a row, Florida dodged a major Category-5 Hurricane, this time by about 30 miles and last year by about 10 miles. Dorian was right off the coast of West Palm Beach, where I live. Dorian eventually made its way up eyeing the Florida coast and hitting the Outer Banks of the Carolinas, where it unleashed flooding and a 7-foot storm surge. Over 800,000 people were ordered to evacuate South Carolina, ahead of the storm. It has continued on to Nova Scotia. We have 4 more storms in the Atlantic to be watching over the next 6-18 days. NOAA sees Gabriella as an Extratropical Cyclone with 50mph winds, so no longer worried about.

There is currently no tropical cyclone activity expected during the next 48 hours in the Atlantic, Eastern North Pacific, and the Central North Pacific.

As for the weather, the daily deluge of record-setting temperatures and horrific afternoon thunderstorms here in Florida has finally stopped after about 3 weeks. After last week’s high temperatures and heat index of 105-110 degrees, we have cooled off 5-10 degrees and become less rainy. I would say drier, but humidity has remained 70-90%, so I can’t say drier. Meanwhile, a strong cold front is bringing cooler air from Canada and combining it with Monsoon moisture to impact the US. There will be significant damaging winds, very large hail, isolated tornadoes, and heavy rain in the Midwest. Flash flooding will hit the Southwest and snow could hit areas above 8,000 feet in the North and Central Rockies. Meanwhile, the heat from the South will move into the Midwest and Northeast towards the weekend, bringing temperatures back up from the 50s and 60s to 80s and 90s.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season began 3/28 this year and will end sometime in November, and 8-month long season, about double the seasons of the other 3 major sports. the 2018 World Series Champion Red Sox did not start well and continue not to do particularly well, with a slim chance at the Wild Card. Their rival Yankees are burning up the field and the standings this year, just the way the Red Sox did last year. David Ortiz, having recovered from gunshots and 3 surgeries, threw out the first pitch in Monday’s game between the Red Sox and Yankees and thanked the Fenway fans. It didn’t help, as the Red Sox lost again. On Monday, the Red Sox fired their highly touted President Dave Dombrowski, who couldn’t keep the team on the path to the playoffs, after orchestrating some trades and inheriting a young talented roster that brought them the World Championship in 2018. Joe Maddon’s job may be on the line with the Cubs’ run for the Division or the Wild Card. Yankees Mike Tauchman is likely out for season with a calf injury. The Astros scored 21 runs in a blowout win over the Mariners. Overlooked was that Astros ace Gerrit Cole became the second pitcher ever to strike out 14+ (he struck out 15 Mariners) in three straight starts. Cubs IF Addison Russell was hit by a pitch in the head and had to leave the game.

With about 17 games left in the season, let’s take a look at the standings and Wild Card races: AL East-Yankees are solidly in first place, 9 games ahead of the Rays and 18 ½ games ahead of the Red Sox. The Orioles are no longer the worst team in baseball though, although 48 games behind the Yankees and 46-97. AL Central-Twins are still clinging to first place, 5 games ahead of the Indians, but everyone else has fallen off the charts. The Tigers now have the worst MLB record at 42-100. AL West-Astros are in first place, 10 ½ games ahead of the A’s. NL East-the surprising Braves (without the big splashes their rivals made in free agency) are in first place, 9 1/2 games ahead of the Nationals. NL Central-Cardinals are in first place, but tenuously 4 games ahead of the Cubs and 6 games ahead of the Brewers. NL West-Dodgers are in first place by a mile, 17 ½ games ahead of Giants and 15 ½ games ahead of Diamondbacks. Except for the NL Central, the focus will be on the Wild Card races. In the AL, it’s between the Rays, A’s, and Indians (in that order) for the 2 spots. In the NL, it’s between the Nationals, Cubs, Brewers, D-Backs, Phillies, and Mets (in that order) for the 2 spots.

The MLB announced the class of the six 2019 inductees into the Hall of Fame and they are: Harold Baines, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez (finally), Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, and Lee Smith. The ceremony will be on 7/21 in Cooperstown, NY. Baines and Smith were elected to the Hall of Fame by the Today’s Game Era Committee. Baines, an ESPN analyst, will go in as a White Sox, Halladay will go in without a logo, Martinez will go in as a Mariner (kind of insuring that his fellow DH, David Ortiz, will make it too), Mussina will go in without a logo (I’m surprised), Rivera (the greatest reliever of all-time) will go in as a Yankee, and Smith (one of the greatest relievers of all-time) will go in as a Cub.

Golf:

The FedEx Cup finally ended with Rory McIlroy winning the $15 million check. The PGA Tour took a 15-day break after that, but is ready to resume the Fall season, with 11 tournaments. World No.10 Bryson DeChambeau headlines the field this week in the Fall season of the PGA Tour with Greenbrier. A back injury is forcing Stacy Lewis to withdraw from the Solheim Cup. The European Open has some weird rules incidents. It would be Arnold Palmer’s 90th birthday today. Tiger Woods had arthroscopic surgery on that knee, which surprised everyone. He will have had two months off before flying to Japan to play in the inaugural Zozo Championship. But, he will be busy on 11/4 picking the four captain’s picks for the US Presidents Cup, to be held at Royal Melbourne. He could name himself and make history as a playing captain. The PGA Tour is set to implement a new club-testing program which will now test drivers pulled directly from players’ bags.

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season ended with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive battle 13-3 in the Super Bowl. The 100th NFL season began Thursday night, with another defensive battle between the longtime rivals Packers and Bears, with the Packers upsetting the Bears, who were picked by 6, 10-3. At least the new Bears placekicker made his Field Goal attempt (unlike his predecessor who famously donked both uprights and the crossbar in 3 attempts in the same playoff game last year. It was QB Tom Brady’s 6th Super Bowl victory. NFL training camps have opened for the 100th NFL season. So, Antonio Brown, who left the Steelers for free agency and was gobbled up by the Raiders, refused to play with the new more protective helmet. Then he got into an altercation with the GM, after getting fined. Then, they had enough and cut him. Within minutes, the Patriots, who were already fully up on star wide receivers, snatched him up with a 1year/$15 million contract. Well, on Tuesday he practiced with the Pats for the first time and then was accused of a rape two years ago. Could spell more trouble for AB.

Week 1 regular season results (winner highlighted in yellow and line prior to gametime):

Thursday
Green Bay Packers 10 @ Chicago Bears 3, Bears were favored by 3, but lost their 6th out of last 7 games versus their ultimate rivals.

Sunday
LA Rams 30 @ Carolina Panthers 27, Rams favored by 3, Super Bowl runner-up Rams eked out the victory over a game Panthers, just as expected.

Tennessee Titans 43 @ Cleveland Browns 13, much hyped Browns favored by 6, which was a trap!

Kansas City Chiefs 40 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 26, Chiefs favored by 4 and blew out the Jags. It was a very costly game for both teams, as new super QB Nick Foles of Jags suffered a broken clavicle on his throwing arm as he threw his first TD as a Jag. He may come back during the season, after surgery Monday. On the other side of the ball, the dominating chiefs had their star receiver Tyreek Hill taken to the hospital for an emergency, as he suffered a rare “sternoclavicular dislocation”, which I read as similar to Foles’ broken clavicle, but broken off of the sternum instead of in the middle. He could come back during the season.

Baltimore Ravens 59 @ Miami Dolphins 10, Ravens favored by 7, made a mockery of the Dolphins with their new QB. The Dolphins don’t get a break either, as they face the Patriots in Week 2.

Atlanta Falcons 12 @ Minnesota Vikings 28, Vikings favored by 4 because of home field advantage, so it was supposed to be close, but wasn’t.

Buffalo Bills 17 @ NY Jets 16, Jets favored by 3 with Le’Veon Bell and home field, but the Jets snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Washington Redskins 27 @ Philadelphia Eagles 32, Eagles favored by 10, were down 17 points at halftime, but rallied to win.

Indianapolis Colts 24 @ LA Chargers 30, Chargers favored by 7, as Colts QB Luck just retired, but the Colts made it go to OT and messed up the Line.

Cincinnati Bengals 20 @ Seattle Seahawks 21, Seahawks favored by 9, became another expected blowout that was really close in the end.
Detroit Lions 27 @ Arizona Cardinals 27, Lions by 2.5, one that was supposed to be close and didn’t disappoint (except maybe Lions’ fans), ending in a tie in OT.

NY Giants 17 @ Dallas Cowboys 35, Cowboys favored by 7, wasn’t even close.

San Francisco 49ers 31 @ Tampa Bay Bucs 17, even odds, the one game that was supposed to be real close and it was a blowout.

Pittsburgh Steelers 3 @ New England Patriots 33, SB champs favored by 6 as Steelers lost Antonio Brown (who ironically then wound up on Pats) and Le’Veon Bell to free agency. Most people thought this would be close and could be an upset. Most people were wrong.

Monday
Houston Texans 28 @ New Orleans Saints 30 Saints favored by 7, but turned out to be a great battle, with the Saints kicking a 58-yard field goal at the end to win for an exciting finish.

Denver Broncos 16 @ Oakland Raiders 24, even odds, but right from the start, the Raiders out-muscled the Broncos at won fairly easily.

The AAF, which was co-founded by Charlie Ebersol, and supported by the NFL as a developmental league, was folded by the NFL just 6 games into the Spring season this year. It is not to be confused with the XFL, which was launched 17 years ago, by Dick Ebersol of NBC, Charlie’s father. The XFL will re-launch in 2020.

Let’s look at the new NFL Hall of Fame class, which includes Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed, Kevin Mawae, Champ Bailey, Johnny Robinson, Pat Bowlen, Gil Brandt, and Ty Law.
In case you are already looking forward to Super Bowl LIV, which will be held here in Miami, tickets and TD club package start at $5000 per person. Other packages start at $10,000 per person. So, much for me driving down there to see who the Patriots play…

NCAA Football:

College football has finally returned! In fact, we have now played 2 weeks of the 15-week regular season. It was really weird starting out without Alabama on top of the AP Top 25 poll, where they perennially start at No.1. But, since Clemson won the BCS National Championship last year, they were No.1 to start the season. Some serious excitement already, as No.7 Michigan nearly lost in their own house to unranked Army and needed 2 OTs and referee help to finally win 24-21. Most of the rest of the Big 10 was solid and won some blowout games in Week 2. In fact, most ranked teams had blowouts in Week 2: No.19 Iowa beat Rutgers 30-0, No.21 Maryland beat Syracuse in a school record 63-20, No.14 Wisconsin beat Central Michigan 61-0, No.3 Georgia beat Murray State 63-17, No.11 Utah beat Northern Ilinois 35-17, No.6 Ohio State beat Cincinnati 42-0, No.2 Alabama beat NM State 62-10, No.18 Michigan State beat up Western Michigan 61-17, No.17 UCF beat up on poor FAU 48-14, Oklahoma beat up South Dakota 70-14, No.13 Penn State beat Buffalo 45-13, and No.24 USC beat Stanford 45-20. Exceptions were: No.22 Boise State barely beat Marshall 14-7, No.1 Clemson beat No.16 Texas A&M 24-10, No.8 Auburn had some trouble with Tulane 24-6, No.4 LSU won a wild game against No.12 Texas 45-38. No.23 Washington was upset by California 20-19.

The current AP Top 25 Poll:
1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Georgia
4. LSU
5. Oklahoma
6. Ohio State
7. Notre Dame
8. Auburn
9. Florida
10. Michigan
11. Utah
12. Texas
13. Penn State
14. Wisconsin
15. Oregon
16. Texas A&M
17. UCF
18. Michigan State
19. Iowa
20. Washington State
21. Maryland
22. Boise State
23. Washington
24. USC
25. Virginia

NHL:

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some of the 31 teams, on 10/3. It ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Bruins 4-3 in the Finals. The Blues were in last place in their division in January and wound up winning it all. The NHL is finishing up free agency signings. Blue Jackets signed Zach Werenski to a 3year/$15 million deal. Capitals named Brooks Orpik to Player Development Department. Of the top 50 unrestricted free agents, the ones left are: No.17 Patrick Marleau (Maple Leafs), No.26 Dion Phaneuf (Kings), No.41 Thomas Vanek (Red Wings), No.48 Jason Pominville (Sabres). Of the top 20 restricted free agents, the one available are: No.1 Mitch Marner (Maple Leafs), No.3 Mikko Rantanen (Avalanche), No.5 Brayden Point (Lightning), No.6 Patrik Laine (Jets), No.7 Kyle Connor (Jets), No.8 Brock Boeser (Canucks), No.10 Mathew Tkachuk (Flames), No.14 Charlie McAvoy (Bruins), No.16 Ivan Provorov (Flyers), No.19 Travis Konecny (Flyers).

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3 as well. It officially ended with the underdogs, the Toronto Raptors ousting the favorite Golden State Warriors in six games. Michael Jordan pledged $1 million to Hurricane Dorian relief in Bahamas. The Grizzlies refused to buy out Andre Iguodala’s contract and want him back at camp. NBA is planning to ban ‘ninja-style’ headbands next season. 76ers’ Mike Scott got into a fight with Eagles fans. Kawhi Leonard’s sister has been charged with rober and death of an elderly woman. A Duke investigation found no evidence that Zion Williamson was paid by Nike during his short college tenure. Nike will open a LeBron James building on Portland campus.

Olympics:

The hype for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo has officially begun. You may have already heard that there will be some new sports added and some sports returning. Many USA Olympic stars will be returning, including the World Cup Champion USA Women’s soccer team. The team will include their goalie, who is planning on putting off her debut in the NFL, as a placekicker, breaking the sex barrier in the NFL, until after the Olympics.

Tennis:

At Wimbledon, in July, Serena Williams was upset by Simona Halep in the Final. Serena had another opportunity to win that elusive record-breaking 24th Grand Slam title, in the US Open. However, she was totally dominated by Bianca Andreescu in 2 sets in the Final (although she had a magnificent 5 game rally in the second set that fell short). On the Men’s side, Rafael Nadal won his 19th Grand Slam title. He is now just one behind Roger Federer, who holds the all-time Men’s record for most Grand Slam titles. Federer also holds the record for most Grand Slam Finals at 31, but Nadal is now at 27. Nadal is just the 5th man in the Open Era to win 4 or more US Opens. Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer each won 5 and John McEnroe won 4. Okay, I had to really dig up these last facts: he’s now 209-1 at Grand Slams after he wins the first 2 sets, it was the longest Grand Slam Final he ever won at 4:51 against Medvedev, He’s now won 27 of his last 28 matches, and he’s spending his 750th straight week in the Top 10 (currently No.2 and closing on Djokovic). Did you know that the top 3 (Djokovic, Nadal, Federer) have won 51 of the last 59 Grand Slams?

Horse Racing:

Los Angeles could soon be the first major city to ban horse racing. The Breeders Cup will be at Santa Anita Park 11/1 and 11/2.

Racing:

Last year’s champion, his first, for the NASCAR Cup Series was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead. Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017. The 2019 regular season has just completed and the Playoffs begin this week. Here is the complete schedule of races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2019 and the results:

2/17 Daytona 500, won by Denny Hamlin
2/24 Atlanta, QuickTrip 500, won by Brad Keselowski
3/3 Las Vegas-Joey Logano
3/10 ISM Raceway-Kyle Busch
3/17 Auto Club-Kyle Busch
3/24 Martinsville-Brad Keselowski
3/31 Texas-Denny Hamlin
4/7 Bristol-Kyle Busch
4/13 Richmond-Martin Truex Jr.
4/28 Talladega-Chase Elliott
5/5 Dover-won by Martin Truex Jr.
5/11 Kansas-won by Brad Keselowski
5/18 All-Star Open Charlotte-won by Austin Dillon
5/26 Charlotte, Coca-Cola 600-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/2 Pocono, Pocono 400-won by Kyle Busch
6/9 Michigan, Firekeepers Casino 400-won by Joey Logano
6/23 Sonoma, Save Mart 350-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/30 Chicago, Camping World 400-won by Alex Bowman
7/7 Daytona, Coke Zero 400-won by Austin Haley
7/13 Kentucky, Quaker State 400-won by Kurt Busch
7/21 New Hampshire, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-won by Kevin Harvick
7/28 Pocono, Gander RV 400-Denny Hamlin
8/4 Watkins Glen, GoBowling at The Glen-Chase Elliott
8/11 Michigan, Consumers Energy 400-Kevin Harvick
8/17 Bristol, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Denny Hamlin
9/1 Darlington, Bojangles’ Southern 500-Erik Jones
9/8 Indianapolis, Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard-Kevin Harvick
9/15 Las Vegas playoff-South Point 400
9/21 Richmond playoff
9/29 Charlotte playoff
10/6 Dover playoff
10/13 Talladega playoff
10/20 Kansas playoff
10/27 Martinsville playoff
11/3 Texas playoff
11/10 ISM Raceway playoff
11/17 Miami-Homestead final playoff

Formula One began with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That was followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule 2/18-2/21 and 2/26-3/1, both in Catalunya, Spain. Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar and results (it might be easier to just say which races were not won by Lewis Hamilton):

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne-won by V. Bottas
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by Lewis Hamilton
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg-won by Max Verstappen
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone-won by Lewis Hamilton
7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim-won by Max Verstappen
8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest-Lewis Hamilton
9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa-Charles Leclerc
9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza-Charles Leclerc
9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore
9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi
10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka
10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City
11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX
11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo
12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

Here is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar and results (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars). There is only one race left this season:

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg-Josef Newgarden
3/24 Circuit of the Americas-Colton Herta
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama-Takuma Sato
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach-Alexander Rossi
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis-Simon Pagenaud
5/26 Indianapolis 500-Simon Pagenaud
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1-Josef Newgarden
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2-Scott Dixon
6/8 Texas Grand Prix-Josef Newgarden
6/23 Road America-Alexander Rossi
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto-Simon Pagenaud
7/20 Iowa 300-Josef Newgarden
7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio-Scott Dixon
8/18 Pocono Grand Prix-Will Power (I love that name!)
8/24 Gateway Grand Prix-Takuma Sato
9/1 Grand Prix of Portland-Will Power (that’s all it takes)
9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca

Travel News:

Massachusetts State Police are searching for a couple captured on toll cameras on the Mass Turnpike near Boston, as they were both asleep in their Tesla, travelling under auto control at 55 mph. Talk about ‘being asleep at the wheel!’ An American Airlines mechanic deliberately sabotaged a flight, overriding onboard computer, so he could get more overtime. Luckily, the pilot was able to return the plane safely. Aer Lingus has round-trip flights to Ireland for as low as $399. A never-before-seen “Zipline Roller Coaster” just opened in Pigeon Forge, TN, at Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud Show and Adventure Park). It is named the Flying Ox. Millennials are not going on vacation much, according to a new study by DepositAccounts. 55% of Millennials said they did not go on vacation in the past year for financial reasons, as opposed to 49% of Gen Xers and 35% of Baby Boomers. Millennials are stressed, overworked, underpaid and have budgets that include student debt and pricey rentals. A Nevada plane crash killed two people and injured three, including Good Samaritan who pulled over to help. Nashville has a boutique hotel chain which is also a Contemporary Art Museum. An Australian journalist accidentally paid $100,000 for a beer during a trip to England. An off-duty pilot on vacation with his family saved an entire flight from major delays by offering to fly the EasyJet plane himself. A generous 6-year-old boy used his entire Disney World savings to help Hurricane Dorian evacuees. You can now winery hop through Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley in a vintage VW bus. The Northern Lights are finally visible again. A woman was spotted taking her miniature service horse on an American Airlines flight to Chicago. A flight attendant caused a panic, when she yelled for an evacuation at Newark Airport on Labor Day. New research found that many electronic scooter riders who have been injured were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Health News:

CVS, Wegmans, Kroger and Walgreens have banned customers from openly carrying in their stores, even in states that allow ‘open carry’. The decisions come after a shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, TX that left 22 people dead. A Kansas resident has become the 6th person nationwide to die from a vaporing-related illness. Several states and the CDC have urged the Americans to stay away from vaping devices, until authorities can figure out what has caused a rash of over 471 hospitalized people, suffering severe respiratory issues from vaping. The FDA has tested 120 product samples, and so far has been unable to identify any one brand, ingredient or substance that could explain the illnesses. Although E-cigarettes have been around for more than a decade, reports of vaping-related illnesses only started showing up in July 2019. President Trump is weighing a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. In separate research, experts say vaping can bring on dental diseases such as gingivitis, tooth decay, and even oral cancer. For you pumpkin spice people, Jose Andres mobilized World Central Kitchen in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian. Costco’s famous pumpkin pies are officially back in stores, as is pumpkin spiced latte at Starbuck’s. Oh no, even Krispy Kreme added 2 pumpkin spice doughnuts to its menu. Not kidding, pizza candy canes are coming for you this holiday season. Did you know that you can now apply to be an ‘NFL Food Taster’ and eat at football stadiums across the country? Scientists say left-handed people may have better verbal skills. A new study by University of Michigan suggests that hearing aids can reduce depression and dementia risk. A new UK study suggests that protein shakes ingested after a workout do not do much for your muscles. Facebook and Pinterest are now fighting back against anti-vaccine content and erroneous health information being shared online, given the more than 1,200 measles cases in the US. Researchers say the higher the use of antibiotics, the higher the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Another study say that red wine is better than white wine for gut health. Researchers say treating high blood pressure in older adults can slow cognitive decline. The CEO of Whole Foods doesn’t think much of plant-based meat alternatives, citing that Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger can be high in sodium and saturated fat. Researchers say that after a heart attack, all clogged arteries should be repaired. A new study finds that Vegetarian and Vegan diets may increase stroke risk, although they reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. In the Bahamas, the survivors will now face many health challenges in the coming weeks. There is no clean water, except bottled water. There have already been two cases of cholera reported.

This will serve as sort of a Public Service Announcement for the more experienced of our industry:

Keep in mind that deals may vary at participating locations and can change without notice.
• McDonald’s: discounts on coffee and beverages (55+)
• Whataburger: free drink with purchase of a meal, depending on location (55+)
• Wendy’s: give free coffee or other discounts depending on location
• Piccadilly Cafeteria: 10% discount with “Prime Time for Seniors” card
• IHOP: 10% discount (55+) and a menu for people aged 55 and over at participating locations
• Krispy Kreme: 10% off (50+) (age and discount varies depending on location)
• Subway: 10% off (60+) varies by location
• The Old Spaghetti Factory: Spaghetti Factory “Senior Menu” offers discounted list of menu items
• Uno Pizzaria & Grill: “Double Nickel Club” 25% off on Wednesday (55+)
• Sizzler: Offers “Honored Guest Menu” (60+) varies by location
• Old Country Buffet: Daily discounts for seniors (55+)
• Friendly’s Restaurants: 10% off meal w/ free coffee at breakfast or free small sunday during non-breakfast hours
• Fazoli’s: Join “Club 62” for special senior menu items (62+)
• KFC: free small drink with any meal depending on location (55+)
• Country Kitchen: Great Senior Menu (55+)
• Burger King: 10% discount on purchase depending on location (60+)

Also, those similarly wizened, can save an average of $3252/year in mortgage payments with the new Government “Enhanced Relief” Program, stop paying for home appliance repairs with new Home Warranty Programs, save up to 70% on car insurance, and take advantage of these shopping deals:

• Bealls Outlet Senior Discounts: 15% off every Tuesday 50+
• Belk: 15% off first Tuesday of every month 62+
• Bon-Ton Department Stores: 15% off on senior discount days; 20% if you use the store’s proprietary credit card 55+
• C.J. Banks/Christopher Banks: 10% off every Wednesday 60+
• Clarks: 10% off 62+
• Dressbarn: 10% off Tues and/or Wed call ahead-varies by location – 55+
• Goodwill: 10% – 20% off one day a week date varies by location – 55+
• Hallmark: 10% off one day a week date varies by location; age may vary depending on the product
• iParty: 10% senior discount every day; ask for discount as soon as you get to the checker
• Kohl’s: 15% off on Wednesdays 60+
• Michael’s: 10% off every day with AARP card – 55+
• Modell’s Sporting Goods: 10% off every day 65+
• Ross Stores: 10% off every Tuesday 55+
• The Salvation Army Thrift Stores: Up to 50% off , days vary 55+
• SteinMart: 20% off red dot/clearance items first Monday of every month 55+
• TJ Maxx Senior: 10% on Mondays FLORIDA only at this time – 55+
• Walgreens: 20% off once a month, “Balance Rewards” card required. 65+ and AARP

La Colombe and MillerCoors have joined the alcohol coffee game with their own Hard Cold Brew. By getting around 6-9 hours of sleep per night, most people can substantially reduce their risk of having a heart attack, according to the latest research. However, too much or too little sleep can increase that risk. Researchers say drinking 2 soft drinks (sweetened by sugar or by artificial ingredients) per day can increase your risk of an earlier death.

Animal News:

A Florida woman found a manatee in her backyard during Hurricane Dorian. North Carolina’s wild horses rode out Hurricane Dorian, as they have hurricanes for 500 years. Okay, I studied animals most of my childhood and I never knew this, polar bears are left-handed (pawed)? The lovely mosquitoes, famous for passing on bad diseases to humans, are now passing on a rare but deadly disease, known as Triple E (Eastern equine encephalitis), which attacks the brain. There have been 7 cases reported so far in the US (MA, MI, FL). Fatality rate is about 30%. Mosquitoes, why did Noah put 2 of them on the Ark? In happier news, hundreds of wild parrots are now thriving in Campo Grande, Brazil, where decades ago, the blue-and-gold macaws arrived, fleeing drought and wildfires. The 18th meeting of the global treaty on cross-border wildlife trade was contentious, but more than 130 species newly received protections. International leaders have instituted a near-complete ban, in which African elephants will no longer be caught in the wild and sent to faraway zoos. Pangolin scale medicines are no longer covered by Chinese health insurance. Scientists have tagged the deepsea shark, bluntnose, hundreds of feet underwater for the first time. Recent studies suggest that Australia’s beloved duck-billed platypus is not as widespread as thought, in part to centuries of hunting and habitat loss. Only 2 northern white rhinos are left in the world and both are female. To preserve their subspecies, scientists are making a bold effort which has completed a critical step. The over 9,000 Amazon jungle wildfires, which were set by humans, are permanently altering the wildlife and vegetation of the area. The fires are now raging in forest in Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, and Bolivia. 10% of the Earth’s animal species live there and many have either died, are retreating to other areas, or are fleeing the area. Once the land is no longer tropical forest, there will be encroachment likely by human settlements, further altering the habitat. For those that think burning forests is Nature’s way of maintaining healthy ecosystems, that is true of some US wildfires and there, animals have adapted to cope with it. However, it is so infrequent in the lush tropical rainforest of the Amazon, that animals are not adapted to cope with it. In fact, that ecosystem is so rich and diverse, precisely because it doesn’t really burn due to natural causes. Constant rains and damp air inhibit fire. The most powerful electric eel has been discovered, capable of giving an 860-volt shock!

Entertainment News:

The Hallmark Channel just released its new Christmas movie schedule and the first one will air in October. Alex Trebek has returned to Jeopardy! After 5 months of treatments for stage-4 pancreatic cancer. He is an inspiration! Matthew Broderick and wife Sarah Jessica Parker are reuniting in Broadway revival of Neil Simon’s “Plaza Suite”. A Very Brady Renovation had the highest-rated premiere in HGTV history. Lisa Kudrow says she struggled playing character Phoebe on Friends. Katey Segal has closed a deal to return to The Connors in Season 2. The show dropped Roseanne Barr. Christian Bale did not agree with Robert Pattinson’s BATMAN casting. Speaking of BATMAN, there is another JOKER movie coming out, starring Joaquin Phoenix. Chance the Rapper has postponed his imminent tour after birth of his daughter. Former American Idol star, Antonella Barba, is facing an arrest after warrant issued. A-Rod said that exes will be invited to his wedding to Jennifer Lopez. Sophia Grace and Rosie are all grown up now, reunited 8 years after appearing many times on Ellen. Bachelor couple has renewed vows in impromptu Las Vegas ceremony. Kevin Hart is back in the news with a back injury suffered in a car crash involving his vintage Barracuda, driven by a friend. The car is now being inspected by CHP. Amanda Bynes has joined Instagram. Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott will be in Playboy. Mila Kunis pranked Ashton Kutcher into growing a terrible mustache. Chris Cornell’s ex-wife is suing his widow over child support. Taylor Swift is showing off her dance moves in new CATS teaser. Wendy Williams is reportedly playing nice so ex will sign divorce papers. Hallmark Channel host Cameron Mathison has revealed his renal cancer battle. Eddie Murphy has reunited with the young star from THE GOLDEN CHILD. Murphy is also planning to return to stand-up comedy in 2020. Joe Guidice from Real Housewives of New Jersey is in ICE custody, awaiting deportation. Orlando Bloom says he turned down a spot on Saturday Night Live because of his dyslexia. Anthony Michael Hall is engaged to Lucia Oskerova. The Weeknd is debuting a new look. Rosario Dawson is dating two senators, one in her upcoming series Briarpatch, the other Sen. Cory Booker, who is running for President. Pierce Brosnan has endorsed the new female James Bond. Jenny Slate and boyfriend Ben Shattuck are engaged. Johnny Depp is defending his Dior ad, amid backlash. Holly Marie Combs married longtime boyfriend Mike Ryan. Sean Connery reportedly rode out Hurricane Dorian in his Bahamas home. Britney Spears’ father has stepped down as her conservator. Bobby Brown was kicked off an airplane after an alleged altercation.

Hollywood’s (and Wall Street’s) billionaire friend and Palm Beach and NYC resident, Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of operating a sex-trafficking ring involving dozens of victims, was found dead in his cell of an apparent suicide. The details are still a little fuzzy whether he committed suicide or was silenced before what would have been a high profile trial.

Since my last Repo Commentary (7/25), we lost actress Valerie Harper (famous as Rhoda on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and then her own spinoff sitcom Rhoda) on August 30th. Project Runway star Chris March died 9/5 at age 54. Kylie Rae Harris, “Twenty Years From Now” singer died in a car crash on 9/4 at age 30. Photographer Peter Lindbergh died on 9/3 at age 74. Spanish singer Joana Sainz Garcia died at age 30 while performing on stage in Spain, in September. A pyrotechnics explosion hit her in the stomach while she was singing. American Idol alum Haley Smith died at age 26 in an August motorcycle incident. Peter Fonda of EASY RIDER fame, died on 8/16 at age 79.

The Fall (almost Fall) box-office started off strong this past weekend. Debuting at No.1 was IT: CHAPTER TWO, ad adaptation of Stephen King’s original novel, which made $91 million. 2017’s IT remains the only horror movie ever to top $100 million in its first weekend. IT and IT TWO are not only the No.1 and No.2 openings for horror movies all-time, but also the No.1 and No.2 openings for any movies in September of all-time. No.2 at the box-office was ANGEL HAS FALLEN, which took in $6 million (total now $53 million), in its 3rd week. No.3 at the box-office was GOOD BOYS, with $5.4 million (total now $66.8 million globally), in its 3rd week. No.4 at the box office was THE LION KING, which made only $4.2 million, but now for global total of nearly $1.6 billion! It is now No.7 all-time both globally and internationally. No.5 at the box office was OVERCOMER, which made just $3.75 million, in its 2nd week.

Opening this week in theaters is a trove of movies: the widely-anticipated HUSTLERS (with Jennifer Lopez), THE GOLDFINCH, GANG LEADER, FREAKS, DREAM GIRL, OUT OF LIBERTY, YOU ARE HERE: A COME FROM AWAY, THE FAVORITE, SECTiON 375, BLINK OF AN EYE, PAILWAN, MONOS, FAGARA, HAUNT, 3 DAYS WITH DAD, CHASING EINSTEIN, DEPRAVED, CHAINED FOR LIFE, CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET, RIOT GIRLS, DESOLATION CENTER, THE SOUND OF SILENCE, IRIS: A SPACE OPERA BY JUSTICE, IMPRISONED, HOW TO SAY GOODBYE, ARTIK, A FAMILY SUBMERGED, D-DAY, and THE HARVESTERS. I’m still way behind on movies, although catching up slowly through On Demand. I’m currently confused about whether I’ve seen all the DOG’S purpose, way home, life, etc. franchise.

Technology & Space News:

Separate antitrust investigations will be launched into Facebook and Google’s parent, Alphabet, according to the WSJ. More than half the US state attorneys general have joined to investigate Google’s impact on digital advertising, while the probe into Facebook will focus on its “control” of personal data. Water has been discovered for the first time in atmosphere of habitable exoplanet. Electric cars are dominating the Frankfurt Auto Show. New technology is now taking aim at the $74 billion real estate broker commissions. In a new poll of Americans, the majority asked say they trust the Government to use facial recognition technology responsibly.

US News:

More than half of US workers don’t believe they have the skills required to compete in their industries 10 years from now, according to a survey by Prudential. The survey also shows that workers want to stay with their employers longer than previously suggested. Michael Dell says that “The person who can understand data, explain it to the business and make it actionable will become the most valuable employee of the future.” Did you know that I started in IT (actually MIS) at Morgan Stanley almost 37 years ago? Bernie Sanders says we should pay college athletes, as “they are workers too”. Actually, it is their hard work and performance which has a major impact on endowments, alumnae funds, and investments for colleges. US rural counties are showing higher rates of suicide, due to poverty and low employment. Washington DC is now considered to be one of the safest US cities. University of Washington’s medical school is working with 4 states to bring more doctors to their rural communities. We are in a major shortage of physicians in the rural communities. Some hospitals are getting creative in the ways they compensate and attract new doctors. Here in Florida, we are full up on lawyers (over 10,000) and real estate brokers (over 10,000). Elizabeth Warren has topped poll of Democrats. Some veterans with PTSD are turning to beekeeping for relief from anxiety. President Trump has suggested tracking mentally ill by their phones, to try to reduce mass shootings. Newsrooms across America have had their staffs cut by 33,000 this year. Retail store bankruptcies are on the rise and store closures are skyrocketing across the US.

International News:

Israeli Defense Force has struck Gaza after rocket sirens force PM Netanyahu off stage. A Dutch doctor was acquitted in a landmark euthanasia trial. Arab nations have condemned Israeli annexation plan. Barcelona soccer player, Anda Turan, has received a suspended sentence for firing a gun in a hospital after a fight with a singer. PM Justin Trudeau has called a Canadian general election. A toddler has testified in a Myanmar ‘nursery rape’ case. Iran’s ‘blue girl’ has died after setting herself on fire. US airstrikes are targeting an island “infested” with ISIS. North Korea says it test-fired a “super large multiple rocket launcher” on Tuesday. The projectiles landed in the Sea of Japan. The test-firing occurred just hours after a top North Korean diplomat working on nuclear negotiations with the US said Pyongyang would be open to resuming talks with Washington.

Florida:

I am usually singing a National Anthem and doing an Elvis gig each week here in Palm Beach County, FL. I think I have 6 gigs in the month of September and I did finally break down and buy a performance wig, because of the receding grey hair. If you were interested in seeing much more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there were many acts which came to Florida, perhaps when you were visiting:

The Temptations-Fort Lauderdale, January 31
Don McLean-Immokalee, January 31
Michael Bolton-Fort Lauderdale, February 2
The Four Tops and the Temptations-West Palm Beach, February 2
Melissa Manchester-Aventura, February 8
Michael Bolton-West Palm Beach, February 8
The Commodores-Miami, February 9
Patti LaBelle-Fort Myers, February 11
Duran Duran-Miami Beach, February 12
Franki Valli & the Four Seasons, Hollywood, February 14
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14
Dave Mason-Fort Lauderdale, February 15
Little River Band-Fort Myers, February 15
Michael Buble-Sunrise, February 16 (I would like to go)
Alan Parsons Project-Fort Lauderdale, February 18
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes-Bonita Springs, February 20
Art Garfunkel-Fort Lauderdale, February 20
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Sarah Brightman-Hollywood, February 20
PGA Honda Classic-PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, February 28-March 2
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (it was fantastic!)
Sara Mclachlan-March 1, West Palm Beach
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band-Sunrise, March 17
Steve Miller Band-Hollywood, March 17
Tony Bennett-Miami, March 21
Palm Beach International Boat Show-West Palm Beach, March 28-March 31
Jackson Browne-West Palm Beach, April 3
Abba The Concert-Miami Beach, April 4
The Rolling Stones-Miami, April 20
Whitesnake-Fort Lauderdale, April 25
Slayer-West Palm Beach, May 11
Rascal Flatts-West Palm Beach, May 23
Ariana Grande-Orlando, May 29
Ozzie Osbourne & Megadeth-Sunrise, May 31
Hootie & the Blowfish-West Palm Beach, June 8
Florence and The Machine-Miami, June 9
Train & Goo Goo Dolls-West Palm Beach, July 6
Hugh Jackman-Sunrise, July 6
Jeff Lynnes’ Electric Light Orchestra-Sunrise, July 9
New Kids on the Block, Salt N Pepa, Naughty by Nature-Sunrise, July 14
Iron Maiden-Sunrise, July 18
Dave Matthews Band-West Palm Beach, July 26
Jennifer Lopez-Miami, July 26
Korn & Alice in Chains-West Palm Beach, July 28
Shawn Mendes-Miami, July 28
Queen & Adam Lambert-Sunrise, August 17
Florida Georgia Line-West Palm Beach, August 29
Peter Frampton-West Palm Beach, September 6
Dane Cook-Fort Lauderdale, September 28